Report from the Dock
The fall steelhead bite on northeast Ohio Lake Erie tributaries is strong right now. Anglers are fishing the Rocky and Chagrin rivers in particular to catch the chrome at this time of year. On the Western Basin of Lake Erie, fishermen continue to have success catching walleyes and yellow perch. There seems to be more perch catches right now than walleyes, but equal opportunity anglers are doing quite well on both. Now that water temperatures have cooled sufficiently, fishermen are hitting the northern Ohio muskie hot spots such as Leesville Lake and West Branch Reservoir. Some hefty muskies – up to 42 inches – have been reported so far this fall.
Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – Anglers are still fishing deeper water at Alum Creek and are finding saugeyes cooperative. Fishermen report catching saugeyes in anywhere from 18 to 28 feet of water. The fish have mostly ranged from 15 to 21 inches. The best method to catch them has been a black and orange jig tipped with a minnow, according to angler reports.
Delaware Lake (Delaware County) – Anglers are chasing fall crappies with some success. All you need is some type of minnow rig to get on the crappies. Fish are relating to shallow water structure right now and are being caught in as little as 5 feet of water. There is a 9-inch keeper requirement on crappies here and a 30-fish daily bag limit.
Deer Creek Lake (Pickaway and Fayette counties) – Anglers are doing OK on crappies at this lake south of Columbus. At this time of year, it’s hard to beat a lively minnow on line’s end. Fish are being caught shallow on brush piles and other stick ups. The largest crappie being reported ran 11 inches.
Indian Lake (Logan County) – Fishermen have had good luck catching saugeyes in recent days. Fish up to 23 inches have been reported in the Moundwood area of the lake. The popular bait has been a Vib-E or similar type of blade bait. Anglers are also catching loads of white bass alongside the saugeyes.
Lima City Reservoirs (Allen County) – Fishermen are using crappie spreaders tipped with minnows in 15 to 20 feet of water to catch crappies and yellow perch in good numbers in these reservoirs. Remember, the regulation here is for electric motors only. The largest perch and crappies have been right around 11 inches.
Maumee River (Lucas County) – According to Maumee Bait and Tackle, the night bite for walleyes is the top ticket right now. Limits are being caught from the river as well as near-shore points all along the Lake Erie shoreline. Anglers are also cashing in on a good bite for smallmouth bass and catfish in the river proper. As long as open water remains through the late fall, expect these fish to continue their fall feeding frenzy, fattening up for the long winter months ahead. Now is the time to head to the river.
Maumee Bait and Tackle, www.maumeetackle.net
Sandusky River (Sandusky County) – Shoreline anglers are reporting catching walleyes in recent days. The bite has been sporadic, but if you find the fish you can catch them from the shore at this time of year, anglers report. Offerings have included everything from stick-style crankbaits to jig and minnow combinations.
West Branch Reservoir (Portage County) – Anglers trolling Bandits for walleyes have been surprised recently to latch onto a muskie. One angler reports catching a 33-inch muskie in recent days on a rainbow patterned Bandit. The angler was trolling the bait near the dam at a slow speed. Elsewhere on the lake, anglers are managing a few walleyes by trolling and sometimes drifting and casting. Crappies, too, are being caught on minnows or wax worms.
Pymatuning Reservoir (Ashtabula County) – The bite on Pymatuning has been best for yellow perch, according to angler reports. One fishermen reports catching 15 quality-size perch in one outing. They’re using spreaders tipped with minnows and catching multiples at times. Walleye reports have been slow. You can catch all the white bass you want, according to reports.
Lake Milton (Mahoning County) – Smallmouth bass are being caught in good numbers and size on this Mahoning Valley lake. Anglers are using drop shot rigs to get them to bite. The fishing has been best on drop offs in 18 to 22 feet of water.
Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) – Anglers are having some success catching largemouth bass right now. They’re using topwater setups at times and other times drop-shot rigs to get the bass to bite. Walleye reports have been slow, although many walleye anglers report a decent bite on yellow perch.
Paint Creek Lake (Highland County) – Crappies are the popular quarry right now on this Highland County lake. Anglers are vertically jigging jig and minnow combinations to catch fish. Crappies are reportedly holding in about 18 feet of water and relating to structure. These panfish are ranging up to 11 inches.
Caesar Creek Lake (Warren, Clinton, Greene counties) – Crappies are being caught in 15 feet of water or so by anglers who are vertically jigging their bait of choice. Whatever you choose to use, put some meat with your offering for better results. A minnow or piece of nightcrawler on a hook might just be the recipe for success. Crappies are ranging up to a good 10 inches. Saugeye reports have been slow. And, a few muskies have been caught in recent days, although most of those fish have been of the smaller variety.
Great Miami River (various counties) – Catfish, both blue and flatheads, are being caught on different stretches of the GMR right now. The bait of choice is simply fresh cut shad under a float. Some big blues and flatheads have been reported.
Rocky Fork Lake (Highland County) – Jigging Raps are taking a fair number of saugeyes at Rocky Fork in recent days. The popular presentation to get the saugeyes to bite is to cast the lure out and hop it back to the boat. Many of the saugeyes being caught are sub-legal fish and are being released. The largest being reported was a 17-incher.
Leesville Lake (Carroll County) – Muskie anglers are out in full force on this lake that is well known for its good esox population. The popular method to find muskies in the fall is to find the shad and then cast a big bucktail or swimbait. Anglers report catching a few muskies in recent days, the largest a reported 40-incher.
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Water temperatures have fallen significantly in the past couple of weeks, which should trigger a good fall crappie bite. Anglers at this time of year target the area near the dam to pick up fish on minnow rigs such as jig and minnow combinations. Black and blue have been popular colors recently, according to angler reports. Crappies are holding in 18 to 22 feet of water. The fish being reportedly caught are ranging from 8 to 11 inches.
Piedmont Lake (Belmont County) – Anglers are using Vib-Es or similar type of blade baits and vertically jigging them for saugeyes. A few have been caught, ranging up to 19 inches. Crappies, too, are being caught on these same baits and by fishermen using jig and minnow combinations.
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 5 fish (singly or in combination) per angler. On Sept. 1 the daily bag limit for trout and salmon changed to 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.
Where: Walleyes are being caught near-shore in many areas of the Western Basin right now. Huron and Vermilion have been mentioned as the hot spots as well as an area east of Kelleys Island.
How: Anglers are trolling spoons and Bandits in shallow water (15 to 18 feet) to catch limits of walleyes ranging up to 23 inches. Others are fishing from shore in many spots, casting crankbaits and catching walleyes, steelhead, and yellow perch.
Where: Anglers are reporting catching regular 30-fish limits west of the Toledo water intake in 22 to 27 feet of water.
How: Perch spreaders tipped with emerald shiners have been the best setup for perch.
The Rocky River and other area streams are offering great fishing conditions and have been producing good numbers of steelhead the past few days. The relatively dry forecast means conditions into the weekend will be getting low and clear. There have been lots of emerald shiners and small gizzard shad in the marina area and some steelhead are being caught there despite the abundance of natural forage. There have been plenty of reports of steelhead all the way up to the split into the east and west branches of the river this week, so good numbers of fish are now distributed throughout the entire main branch of the Rocky River. As the water clears into the weekend downsizing to smaller dime size spawn bags, small jigs tipped with maggots or live minnows under a float will gain the edge. Fallen leaves in the water are still posing a challenge to getting clean drifts, especially in the slower pool areas. Anglers can look forward to the best fall steelhead fishing in our streams yet to come.
The Cleveland lakefront steelhead bite has been good this week with productive spots including off the rocks at Edgewater and breakwall/rocks at E. 55th/E. 72nd areas, as well as the pier at Wildwood Park. Wendy Park at the old Coast Guard station pier is clearing up after being muddy from rain last week, and is another good option. Casting a spoon or spinner, or drifting a light marabou jig tipped with a wax worm or a few maggots under a float at these locations are a good bet for connecting with a steelhead trout. These lakefront areas are producing good catches of walleyes after dark, as well, with Perfect 10 and other shallow running stick-style crankbaits working well. For the convenience of anglers, a commercial grade fish cleaning station was recently installed at lakefront and opened to the public.
A pleasant fall surprise the past two weeks has been the good numbers of jumbo yellow perch (many between 12-14 inches) being caught along the Cleveland shoreline. Boating anglers are targeting around the east end of the city breakwall and Cuyahoga River lighthouse in about 36 feet of water using emerald shiners on crappie rigs or spreaders on the bottom. Anglers are even making some good catches, at times, from shore at the E. 55th north-facing breakwall. It’s been a few years since we’ve seen such good numbers of this culinary favorite of local anglers off Cleveland, so get out and enjoy the good fortune while it lasts!
Cleveland Metroparks recently released 500 pounds of mixed trout at Wallace Lake (these fish were delayed from stockings in May due to COVID-19). Most of the fish were rainbow trout averaging a pound, but quite a few trophy rainbows, brook, brown, and golden rainbow trout were in the bunch. In addition, in early October Metroparks stocked 1,000 pounds of rainbow trout and 600 pounds of channel catfish at the Ohio and Erie Canal off E. 49th Street. Note: the daily limit at Wallace Lake is 3 trout/angler and the limit at the canal is 5 trout/angler. The trout bite well on a hook filled with kernels of canned corn, colorful dime size balls of Power Bait dough, and smaller spinners. If you are interested in catching either species you can try a nightcrawler worm or piece of shrimp fished on the canal bottom.
Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com