Report from the Dock
Some much-needed rain across northeast Ohio in late September should serve to trigger the fall steelhead runs on the Lake Erie tributaries. As soon as early October, anglers will be lining up to wade the rivers in search of the “chrome.” Judging from recent fishing reports from across the state, fall patterns are setting up for crappies, walleyes, saugeyes, and muskies. The shallow water bite for all of these species has been pretty good all around Ohio. On Lake Erie, a big blow for a few days in late September kept anglers off the lake for the most part. When they were able to get back on, though, the patterns for walleyes and yellow perch picked right back up.
Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – The muskie bite is on at Alum, just in time for the cool fall weather. We’re hearing of anglers catching and releasing 40-plus-inch fish in recent days. They’re targeting the mouths of creek channels coming into the main lake. A big bucktail spinner or crankbait should turn some fish. If you catch a muskie at Alum, be sure to record it on the Division of Wildlife’s Muskie Angler Log. Elsewhere on the lake, smallmouth bass and saugeyes are being caught in deeper water. The crappies seem to be a bit ahead of schedule and are moving up shallow to feed.
Indian Lake (Logan County) – According to recent angler reports, fishing pressure has been lighter than normal at Indian. Not sure if that’s because of the abundance of weeds in the lake or all of the rain we got in late September. Those who have been out have caught a few saugeyes on minnow rigs fished under a float. Saugeyes are ranging up to 19 inches. Moundwood might be a good place to try in the next week or so after all of the rain events.
Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – Saugeyes are being caught with some regularity by anglers using blade baits such as Vib-Es. A blade in chartreuse or some type of white pattern seems to be working the best. Saugeyes have ranged up to 18 inches. Crappies, too, are being caught in the same haunts as the saugeyes. Bank fishermen are having some luck catching catfish on cut baits, shrimp, or nightcrawlers fished on the bottom. Fairfield Beach seems to be the typical hot spot at this time of year.
Sandusky River (Seneca, Sandusky counties) – Anglers fishing the river just south of Tiffin are catching smallmouth bass, rock bass, channel catfish, and crappies. One angler reports using a simple jighead tipped with a piece of nightcrawler to produce fish. Nothing really big to report. The smallmouth topped out at 13 inches and the rock bass at 8. The biggest catfish was a 15-inch specimen. When the flows cooperate, the fall is a good time to wade and fish the river in a number of different spots.
Maumee River (Lucas County) – According to a report in late September, anglers are doing quite well on channel catfish and smallmouth bass. One angler recently reports catching a better than 30-inch channel on shrimp. He released the fish to fight another day. The smallmouths are also hitting live bait, artificial spinnerbaits, or small crankbaits, according to reports. Smallmouth bass will be feeding heavily in October and into November getting ready for winter. Might not be a bad time to wade the Maumee when conditions allow to catch some big bronzebacks.
Maumee Bait and Tackle, www.maumeetackle.net
Pleasant Hill Lake (Richland, Ashland counties) – Anglers are trolling Flicker Shad or similar type cranks for saugeyes right now with some success. They’re targeting 15- to 18-foot depths and catching saugeyes up to 20 inches. Crappies, too, are being caught by some of these same fishermen on the same offerings. Bluegills and pumpkinseed sunfish can be caught along the shoreline on just about any type of bait from wax worms to mousies. Panfish can keep a young angler busy for an afternoon!
Pymatuning Lake (Ashtabula County) – Anglers are targeting the yellow perch bite with some success. Fishermen focusing their efforts near the causeway are producing good numbers of perch. They’re using some type of drop shot rig with nightcrawlers to catch fish. The largest perch being reported was 12 inches, but many in the bunch neared this mark, according to reports. Channel catfish are biting on this same offering and fish have ranged up to a respectable 22 inches. The non-native white perch seem to be fairly thick in Pymatuning as well. We’re hearing very little about walleyes.
West Branch Reservoir (Portage County) – Largemouth bass have been a popular target on West Branch in recent days. Anglers are using Texas-rigged plastics to catch fish up to 18 inches. Most fish have been caught and released. Walleye fishing is heating up, too, as fall temperatures set up. Anglers are finding suspended fish in 16 to 20 feet of water. They’re trolling Flicker Shad or similar baits to catch them. Crappies and white bass are also being caught in these same spots.
Mosquito Lake (Trumbull County) – Fishing for crappies and yellow perch near the causeway seems to be the best bet right now. Anglers are catching both on shad-patterned swimbaits or jig and minnow combinations. Catfish are another viable option and they can be caught on chicken livers fished on the bottom. Walleye reports continue to slowly trickle in – no one is slaying them, so to speak. The best bet for walleyes is to troll some type of small crankbait or worm harness.
Caesar Creek Lake (Warren, Clinton, Greene counties) – Anglers are using small bluegills to catch big channel cats right now. One lucky young man caught a 15-pound channel cat in recent days on cut bluegill. The same angler landed a huge flathead on the same outing. Elsewhere, crappies are putting on the fall feed bag in preparation for the long winter ahead. They can be caught on wax worms or minnows at this time of year in shallow water. The muskie bite should be a good one at Caesar this fall.
Cowan Lake (Clinton County) – Anglers are doing fairly well for crappies and largemouth bass at Cowan. The crappies have moved into shallow water and can be enticed on minnow rigs or wax worms under a float. Largemouth bass can be caught almost anywhere on the lake. Look for some type of rocky cover to target bass and you’re in business. Spinnerbaits and buzzbaits work well for bass, the more flash the better.
CJ Brown Reservoir (Clark County) – Anglers are using blade baits such as Vib-Es to target walleyes with some success. You’ll likely sort through a bunch of catfish while using this method, but those are good eaters, too. The muskie bite is a relatively new thing at CJ and anglers continue to do well on them. Most are catching and releasing muskies in the 20-inch range.
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Crappies are the name of the game right now at Salt Fork. Use a simple rig like a bass minnow under a slip bobber and you should catch fish. Anglers are primarily targeting the ski zone at Salt Fork in 10 to 12 feet of water to catch crappies ranging up to 10 inches. The topwater bite for largemouth bass has also been a decent one in the evenings. Catfish is another good option – simply tie on some chicken livers or nightcrawlers under a big float and keep the bait on the bottom. Saugeye reports have been scarce.
Clendening Lake (Harrison County) – Largemouth bass, bluegills, and white bass have all been caught here in recent days. Anglers fishing this lake are keeping it simple and fishing some type of minnow rig to catch fish. For bass, use a dropshot rig or some type of plastic worm fished along shoreline cover.
Burr Oak Lake (Morgan, Athens counties) – Largemouth bass are always a popular target on Burr Oak and right now is no exception. Anglers are targeting 10- to 12-foot depths with dropshot rigs to catch bass up to 18 inches. Crappies are another option and they can be taken on the typical panfish baits such as minnows or wax worms 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 walleyes is 15 inches.
• The daily bag limit for yellow perch is 30 fish per angler in most Ohio waters of Lake Erie. As of May 1, the daily bag limit for perch shifted to 10 between Huron and Fairport Harbor.
• 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: Late September was a stormy time on Lake Erie, which has somewhat limited the fishing options. When anglers have been able to get out, the usual spots have been producing walleyes. Off the Bass Islands, Kelleys Island, and the cans of the Camp Perry range have all been productive spots. Trolled Bandits in a variety of patterns has been the ticket.
Where: Anglers are fishing around the cans of the Camp Perry range to pick up perch. Green Island has been another popular spot. The bite has been inconsistent, however. Fish the bait just aqcouple of cranks off the bottom for best results.
How: Perch spreaders tipped with emerald shiners have been the best setup for perch. Golden shiners will work, too, in a pinch.
Where: Fishermen in the Western Basin have been targeting efforts for bronzebacks off the back side of South Bass Island and off Kelleys Island. Drop-shot rigs have been taking some nice smallmouths up to 4 pounds in these areas.
Anglers fishing the Lake Erie waters off Geneva continue to do well in 50 feet of water. They’re trolling deep diving Bandits behind divers and boards or using worm harnesses with inline weights.
Cool rain in recent days has anglers looking forward to returning steelhead in the streams. As river levels drop and clear, anglers can find steelhead in the northern river reaches, as well as along the Cleveland shoreline of Lake Erie. Wise anglers will monitor the most recent river water level and temperature.
Area streams are elevated and muddy from rain, but should be beginning to clear up into the weekend – and steelhead anglers will be waiting! As the water levels recede, the area from the Rocky River boat ramps to the Lorain Road bridge can be expected to offer some steelhead for anglers drifting dime size spawn sacks and lightweight marabou jigs under floats. Other good spots to connect with early steelhead are off the rocks and breakwalls at Edgewater Park, E. 55th/E. 72nd and Wildwood Park. Casting a spoon (ie Little Cleo or KO Wobbler) or spinner (ie Vibrax or RoosterTail) at these locations are as good a bet as any for connecting with an early steelhead trout. These same areas are beginning to produce a few walleyes after dark, as well, with Perfect 10 and other shallow running stick-style crankbaits working well.
White and yellow perch, channel catfish, rock bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, freshwater drum, and various sunfish species can be found along the Cleveland shoreline as late summer transitions to early fall and can be caught on offerings such as live shiners, tube jigs, and dropshot rigs. Although not consistent from day to day, yellow perch have made appearances at the shoreline at spots like E. 55th breakwall, Edgewater Park, and Wendy Park recently, at times in decent numbers, and have been biting on small minnows and bits of worm fished on the bottom.
The Ohio and Erie Canal off E. 49th Street will be stocked with rainbow trout and channel catfish for a fishing event on Oct. 16.
Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com