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Ohio Outdoor News Fishing Report – December 29, 2021

Report from the Dock

Steelhead fishing continues to be the top option on northeast Ohio Lake Erie tributaries. Anglers are catching fish on all of the stocked steelhead waters as well as the Cuyahoga River and Euclid Creek, which are not directly stocked with steelhead. Anglers should always check the flow gauge for their river of interest before heading out for steelhead. Walleye fishing on Lake Erie, particularly around the Huron area, continues to be good, although a bit slower than our last report. Anglers are also catching good numbers of perch at Huron and points north. Ice-fishing possibilities are seemingly a ways off still with temperatures into the high 50s and the 60s at the time of this report.

Central Region

Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – The saugeye anglers on this lake continue to do well in the cold, open water. Fishermen are reportedly using jerkbaits with a slow retrieve-and-pause presentation to catch fish. Saugeye limits have been the norm as of late. Some smaller muskies, too, are being caught as incidental catches. The biggest muskie we’ve seen was of the 32-inch variety. Crappies and smallmouth bass, too, continue to be caught.

Indian Lake (Logan County) – Though the bite has slowed down somewhat, saugeyes continue to be caught at Indian. Cold water temperatures have been the ticket leading to the hot bite. Anglers are employing blade baits and jerkbaits to catch fish in rather shallow water. Crappies, white bass, and channel catfish also continue to be caught on a regular basis.

Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – As in most places in Central Ohio that holds saugeyes, the fishing for them has been good at Buckeye. Anglers are using stickbaits and crankbaits to catch fish. One particular pattern that’s been effective is clown. Crappies, too, have been a popular target and anglers are catching these panfish up to 11 inches.

Northwest Region

Sandusky Bay (Sandusky County) – The late fall/early winter bite for channel catfish and largemouth bass is pretty good right now, according to local reports. Anglers are tightlining cut baits on the bottom to catch catfish up to 10 pounds. Fishermen are working shoreline cover to catch good size largemouth bass. They’re using plastic worms or crankbaits to catch bass.

Maumee River (Lucas County) – Anglers who are fishing the river in the late fall/early winter are catching walleyes, steelhead, and crappies. Water temperatures are in the low 30s and falling. Anglers are employing swimbaits and jig and trailer combos to catch all three of these species. Some smallmouth bass and channel catfish have also been in the mix.

Maumee Bait and Tackle, www.maumeetackle.net

Lima Lake (Allen County) – Crappie fishing has been good as of late on Lima Lake. Any type of minnow rig or a wax worm fished under a bobber will catch crappies. Largemouth bass, too, has been an option for fishermen. Bass are being caught along the shoreline by anglers using plastic worms or live bait. For a full report on Lima Lake, see the back page of this issue of Ohio Outdoor News.

Northeast Region 

West Branch Lake (Portage County) – Late fall muskie anglers have been doing well at West Branch, according to local reports. Muskies in the 40-inch range have been reportedly caught and released. Walleye action continues to move the needle as well with anglers catching them on Jigging Rapalas tipped with a minnow. Others are using cranks and jerkbaits to catch fish. The key to the presentation is to slowly retrieve it while pausing in between cranks. Crappies, too, have been a popular target.

Lake Milton (Mahoning County) – Walleye fishing action has been top-notch at Milton in the past couple of weeks. Anglers are catching them in anywhere from 10 to 15 feet of water on blade baits vertically jigged. This is the typical fall pattern for catching walleyes here just before ice up, according to local reports. The big walleye is being reported as a healthy, 25-inch specimen. Crappie fishing, too, has been good with anglers dunking minnows to find them. Yellow perch are also an option.

Mosquito Lake (Trumbull County) – Crappie fishermen continue to find fish in shallow water holding tight to cover. They’re catching them up to 11 inches on swimbaits or jig and minnow combinations. Walleye fishing has been slow with anglers just reporting catching smaller fish. There’s no keeper requirement for walleyes on this lake, but most anglers still release the smaller fish.

Southwest Region 

Caesar Creek Lake (Warren, Clinton, Greene counties) – Saugeye fishing has been decent as has crappie and muskie fishing here. Anglers are catching saugeyes on stickbaits and jerkbaits in perch patterns. The key to the presentation at this time of year is a slow retrieve with frequent pauses. These hybrids are rather lethargic at this time of year, so slow down your presentation for better results. Crappies, bluegills, and yellow perch continue to be caught on wax worm and minnow presentations. Anglers are turning muskies as well with big spinners and cranks.

Cowan Lake (Clinton County) – Bass fishermen are targeting shoreline structure to produce some largemouths. They’re using Ned rigs or plastics in a variety of patterns to produce fish. Crappie fishing has been OK with fishermen employing swimbaits in shad patterns to catch fish up to 10 inches.

Great Miami River (various counties) – You never know what you’re going to catch on the GMR at any time of year. Right now, anglers are catching saugeyes and smallmouth bass by employing jerkbaits and swimbaits. Smallmouth bass, too, are being caught on the same baits in the same places. Look for areas that have good flow and a bend in the river with good depth to find fish.

Southeast Region

Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Fishermen focusing their efforts in deeper water – 20 to 24 feet – are producing a mixed bag of fish here. Anglers are employing blade baits to catch crappies, white bass, and channel catfish, which have ranged up to a decent 6 pounds. 

Leesville Lake (Carroll County) – Muskie fishing continues to go well at this top lake for muskellunge in the state of Ohio. Anglers are reporting 40-plus-inch fish in recent days. They’re catching and releasing them on big spinnerbaits and jerkbaits. Saugeye fishing has been OK, too, with fishermen finding them in 12- to 16-foot depths. They’re biting on swimbaits and smaller cranks with a slow retrieve.

Tappan Lake (Harrison County) – Largemouth bass fishing in the late fall/early winter at Tappan has been good. One angler reports catching four largemouth bass between 13 and 18 inches on a recent outing. Spinnerbaits and plastic worms are taking fish. Also, crappie fishing has been good for fish up to 9 inches. Try swimbaits or jig and minnow combos for best results.

Lake Erie Region

• The daily bag limit for walleyes in Ohio waters of Lake Erie is six 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 two 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 five fish (singly or in combination) per angler. The state also maintains a 14-inch minimum size limit on black bass.

Western Basin

Walleyes

Where: For anglers launching out of Huron, the area north and northwest of the river has been producing walleyes, although limits have been reportedly tough to come by. They’re trolling Bandits in a variety of patterns to catch walleyes. The best depths have been 35 feet or deeper.

Yellow perch

Where: Anglers fishing the Lakeside pier area and around Marblehead have fared well on perch in recent days. One pair of anglers reported catching 85 perch in just a few hours of fishing, keeping their allotted 60 fish, according to reports.

How: Perch spreaders tipped with emerald shiners have been the best setup for perch. Golden shiners will work, too, in a pinch.

Central Basin

Walleye

The night bite for walleyes off the shoreline at E. 72nd Street and other spots around Cleveland continues to be good. Walleyes up to 30 inches have been reported. Anything from a crankbait to a swimbait will entice these fish that are moving in closer to the shoreline as winter approaches.

Yellow perch

Anglers fishing the Central Basin waters off the Cuyahoga River are producing limits of perch in a relatively short amount of time. Size of these fish has been good, too, with few reported under 11 inches.

CLEVELAND METROPARKS

Steelhead

The Rocky and Chagrin rivers have dropped into excellent shape for steelhead anglers. Prospects into the weekend will depend on how much of the forecasted rain we recieve so anglers are advised to check the flow data before heading out.  Many anglers over the past few days reported success drifting dime size spawn sacks (hot pink and chartreuse are both stained water favorites), 1⁄64- to 1⁄16- ounce marabou jigs tipped with maggots, and salmon egg mimmicking beads under floats. Anglers without specialized steelhead gear can also use a medium-action spinning rod for casting spoons (such as Little Cleo) and spinners (such as Vibrax and Roostertail) in areas with deeper water. Despite not being stocked directly, steelhead are also available in modest numbers in the Cuyahoga River, Euclid Creek, and various smaller area tributaries.

Anglers casting off the rocks and breakwalls at Edgewater Park, E. 55th/E. 72nd, Wildwood Park, and Wendy Park continue to have opportunities to catch steelhead during the day and walleyes at night. Casting a spoon (such as a 2⁄5-ounce Little Cleo or KO Wobbler) or spinner (Vibrax or RoosterTail) are a good way to connect with a steelhead trout that requires no more than a medium-action spinning rig spooled with 8-10-pound test monofilament line. A bobber with a 1⁄32-ounce jig tipped with a minnow or maggots suspended 3-6 feet below is also a good producer in the aforementioned areas. A nightcrawler suspended under a bobber on a bare hook can also work well. A longer noodle rod is best for fishing floats.  

Walleye anglers have been connecting by casting lures like Rapala Husky Jerks, Bandits, Rattle Traps, and Perfect 10 stickbaits at dusk and after dark. On windy days, the Wendy Park pier and E. 55th breakwall are more protected than Edgewater and Wildwood park shorelines. Be especially careful of slick conditions along the shoreline rocks and breakwalls, with ice cleats and a long landing net being good investments.

Winter trout stockings at Metroparks lakes and ponds is happening soon at Wallace and Ranger lakes and early next week for Shadow, Ledge and Judge’s lakes. In mid-October, Cleveland Metroparks stocked 1,000 pounds of rainbow trout and 600 pounds of channel catfish at the Ohio & Erie Canal off E. 49th Street and a fair number of those fish remain to be caught. The trout average 1.5 pounds each and the catfish average 1-2 pounds, but Metroparks included a handful of bigger fish in the mix. If you are happy catching either species, you can try a half a nightcrawler or piece of popcorn shrimp fished on the canal bottom.

Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com.

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