Report from the Dock
The crappie bite on Ohio’s inland waters continues to be a deep-water pattern. The key is to find some type of structure in deeper water, whether it be a brush pile or a downed tree. The typical panfish baits – minnows, wax worms, or jigs – will all take crappies. Channel catfish has been the highlight on Sandusky Bay, particularly for those fishermen fishing near the railroad bridge. On Lake Erie, yellow perch has been the hot topic for the past couple of weeks. The bite has been a good one in the Western Basin, and that pattern should only get better as we move into the fall. Walleyes are still being caught in the Western and Central Basins with the bigger specimens having moved east. As a bonus to this fishery, the Maumee River has been giving up an occasional walleye as well. Anglers are targeting deep-water breaks to catch fish.
Hoover Reservoir (Franklin County) – Crappie anglers in recent days have been doing well at Hoover. They’re fishing 15- to 20-foot depths with crappie rigs and minnows. The channel catfish bite has been good, too, for fishermen using nightcrawlers or cut bait fished near the bottom. Saugeye trollers have had some success using Flicker Shad or Flicker Minnows in 15 to 18 feet of water.
Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – Fishermen are taking advantage of cooler temperatures in the early mornings to catch some crappies. The go-to bait has been a simple minnow rig under a float. They’re fishing in 12 to 15 feet of water and locating brush piles to catch fish. Saugeye fishing has been tougher, but anglers are catching a few on the same baits. Others are trolling small crankbaits to pick up fish. Muskie fishing has been fair, although not many anglers are targeting them in the summer heat.
Indian Lake (Logan County) – Anglers are managing to catch a handful of keeper-size saugeyes by trolling Flicker baits. Channel catfish, yellow perch, and crappies have also been in the mix. The spot around Dream Bridge has been a popular destination. In the evenings, fishermen are throwing topwaters in the shallow water areas to catch largemouth bass. Most of those fish are being released.
Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – The lake is experiencing low water levels, so extra caution is prescribed for boating anglers. Those fishermen who have managed to get on the lake have been rewarded with decent crappie and saugeye fishing. The saugeyes are ranging up to a respectable 19 inches. They’re catching them by trolling cranks in mid-depths.
Sandusky Bay (Sandusky County) – The railroad bridge is the target area for channel catfish in the bay right now. Fishermen are using the typical catfish offerings of cut bluegills, shrimp, or nightcrawlers. For best success, be sure to keep your bait just ticking the bottom. Some good size catfish have been reported in recent weeks.
Maumee River (Lucas County) – As of this writing on Aug. 18, the water temperature on the Maumee was 74 degrees, according to Maumee Bait and Tackle. Smallmouth bass fishing has been decent above Independence Dam, according to angler reports. Walleye reports have picked up in the past week or so. As water temperatures cool into the evening hours, walleyes can be found chasing baitfish. They can be caught at this time in shallower water from both shore and boat. The key is to target structure edges, pitching a jig and pulling it back, the bait shop reports. Smaller crankbaits can also be effective.
Maumee Bait and Tackle, www.maumeetackle.net
Bresler Reservoir (Allen County) – Anglers are having some luck finding crappies and largemouth bass at this lake just outside of Lima. The crappies are being caught in deeper water, relating to some type of structure. Fish the shoreline rocks for bass with plastics, swimbaits, or spinnerbaits.
West Branch Reservoir (Portage County) – Anglers are catching a mixed bag of fish on West Branch right now. White bass, largemouth bass, bluegills, and crappies are being caught by anglers fishing jigs and minnows. The area around the east boat ramp has been a popular spot.
Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) – Anglers fishing for bass in the shallows in recent days have been surprised to catch some large northern pike. One fisherman fishing for bass caught a pike that was more than 40 inches in length. He was using a bucktail spinner fished in the grass when the big pike hit. Mosquito Creek has a sleeper pike population, though the species doesn’t get targeted very much.
Lake Milton (Mahoning County) – Fishermen have been catching walleyes with some regularity. The popular method has been to troll Bandits much like one would on Lake Erie. They’re fishing the baits in 15 to 19 feet of water to pick up fish. Crappies, too, are being caught by anglers using minnow rigs.
Berlin Lake (Portage, Mahoning, and Stark counties) – Walleyes remain suspended in 16 to 19 feet of water, according to recent angler reports. Fishermen are catching them by trolling crankbaits or by casting worm harnesses. Crappies are being caught by the jig and minnow crowd. And, channel catfish have been the hot ticket for shore anglers. They’re using nightcrawlers or chicken livers and fishing them a foot or two off the bottom.
Rocky Fork Lake (Highland County) – The crappie bite has been the best thing going on Rocky Fork over the past couple of weeks. Successful anglers are keeping it simple, employing minnow rigs to catch fish around docks and other types of cover. The saugeye bite continues to be a tough proposition, especially with warm water temperatures. Anglers might try slow trolling small cranks.
Caesar Creek Lake (Warren, Clinton, and Greene counties) – Anglers fishing the jet ski launch area on the lake are finding loads of crappies. The successful set up has been to slow troll Flicker Minnows in this area to pick up crappies. For saugeyes, the action has been a bit slower. Anglers are still drifting and casting worm harnesses to pick up an occasional saugeye.
C.J. Brown Reservoir (Clark County) – Walleyes are stocked at this southwest Ohio reservoir, but they are typically tough to locate and catch. One angler in recent days did manage to find them and catch a few, according to local reports. The angler was using a jig tipped with a nightcrawler to catch walleyes up to 21 inches. A couple of short fish were in the mix, but he did manage three keepers.
Seneca Lake (Noble, Guernsey counties) – Stripers and shovelheads both have been caught by anglers in recent weeks. The set up has been the same for both species: nightcrawlers fished a foot or two off the bottom. According to recent angler reports, an 18-pound striper was caught in mid-August. The shovelhead previously mentioned was a decent size specimen as well, the reports indicate, up to 5 pounds.
Tappan Lake (Harrison County) – Bass fishing can be tough at Tappan in the summer months. Still, in recent weeks, anglers are hitting mid-lake points and drop-offs to find smallmouth bass. They’re also targeting early morning and late evening hours to throw topwaters like Floating Rapalas and Jitterbugs to catch largemouth bass.
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Anglers targeting 13 to 16 feet of water and finding some mid-lake structure are finding crappies. They’re throwing jigs tipped with minnows to catch fish and also trolling small cranks at slow speeds. You’ll sort through a lot of small throwbacks to find keeper fish, though. The largest crappie being reported was 11 inches.
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: The Western Basin walleye bite has slowed some from its frenzied pace earlier this summer. However, anglers are still catching six-fish limits on a regular basis. The big difference is that the walleyes hanging out in the West are noticeably smaller now. The big girls and boys have moved east into deeper water, according to an assortment of angler reports. Still, anglers are trolling Bandits and Perfect 10s in the Western Basin to catch walleyes, much like they have all summer.
Further east into the Central Basin is where you’ll find those truly trophy walleyes at this time. Those fishe ranging up to 30-plus inches are available to casters and trollers alike.
Yellow perch fishing has been the hot ticket for fishermen angling on the Western Basin. They’re using emerald shiners when they can get them, or golden shiners in a pinch. Thirty-fish limits are being reported, though most of the perch are running small at right around 8 inches or so, reports indicate.
In late-summer, highlight species targeted around Cleveland Metroparks include walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, panfish, channel catfish, and common carp.
The walleye fishing off Cleveland has slowed somewhat this month. Still, persistent anglers are still catching limits trolling spoons, crawler harnesses, and crankbaits. Also effective is casting and slowly retrieving a weight forward spinner like an Erie Dearie tipped with a whole or half nightcrawler. Some anglers have reported finding schools of fish off Cleveland in approximately 50-55 feet of water with fish often suspended around 30 feet down. But that’s not to say folks aren’t still catching some fish in shallower water off Lakewood and Bratenahl.
On any given outing in summer the Cleveland Harbor behind the breakwall can produce a mixed bag of largemouth bass, rock bass, smallmouth bass, white bass, catfish, freshwater drum, and sunfish species, as well as walleyes. Offerings such as tube jigs and live minnows appeal to the widest variety of species. Yellow perch reports have been all but non-existent lately in the Cleveland area.
Smallmouth bass are typically found in the deeper, rocky pools of the Rocky River during the day in summer, and often move to the heads of such pools in the early morning and evening hours to feed actively. A dark olive or brown tube jig of 3-4 inches length is one of the best producers of bass in the river. “Smallies” also bite well on live bait (ie: minnow, crayfish, and leeches), lures (ie: spinners and minnow plugs), and flies (ie: crayfish patterns, Clouser minnows, dark brown or olive sculpin or muddler minnow patterns). Rock bass are also present in the same river areas as smallmouth, and can be caught using the same offerings listed above.
Channel catfish can be found in deeper holes along the Rocky, Cuyahoga and Chagrin rivers too. On June 16-17, a total of 1,600 pounds of farm-raised channel catfish were stocked between Shadow Lake (500 pounds), Ledge Lake (400 pounds), Ranger Lake (250 pounds), Oxbow Lagoon (150 pounds), and Strawberry Pond (300 pounds). Channel catfish stocked in late May also remain to be caught at Wallace Lake and the Ohio and Erie Canal fishing area. Catfishing is usually best during lower light conditions using baits such as nightcrawlers, minnows, chicken liver, and processed dough baits.
Common carp are found in all of our rivers and are among the most willing biters during the heat of summer. Carp can be caught on canned corn, carp dough baits, worms, or crayfish tails. The key to fishing for either carp or catfish is fishing on (or very near) the river/lake bottom. In addition, freshwater drum (sheepshead), white perch, and bullhead catfish are also common catches in the northern river reaches (north of Morley Ford) in summer.
Summer is a great time for family fishing, and panfish are perfect for a leisurely picnic and fishing outing. Bluegills, crappies, and various other sunfish species can be taken with a number of offerings, with a wax worm or red worm on a small hook (or tiny jig) suspended under a stick float and fished around a weedbed or shoreline brush. Wallace Lake, Shadow Lake, Strawberry Pond, and Lakefront Reservation marinas/harbors are just a few of many places in the park to wet a line for various panfish species. Largemouth bass fishing is often best in Wallace and Hinckley lakes, although bass can be found in most park waters.
Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com