Report from the Dock
Walleye fishing on Lake Erie and its tributaries is a highlight of this fishing report and will continue to be throughout the summer. Though the fishing has slowed a bit over the past two weeks, fishermen are still managing to produce six-fish limits of walleyes in rather short order. We’re even hearing of some anglers catching yellow perch in the Central Basin, which could be a harbinger for a better perch bite come fall. On inland waters, saugeyes, crappies, and muskies have been the highlight. On Tappan Lake in southeast Ohio, an angler recently caught a 50-plus-inch flathead catfish, which we don’t normally hear about in this report. He was using cut bait fished on the bottom and fought the fish for a good 30 minutes before boating it and then releasing.
Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – Anglers throwing square-billed crankbaits in shallow water – 4 to 5 feet – are producing largemouth and smallmouth bass. Others are employing Bobby Garlands under slip floats to catch crappies, saugeyes, and channel catfish. Water temperatures are warming up sufficiently, rising to 79 in one report. There have been some good size muskies up to 40 inches or better caught in the middle and upper pools. Fishermen are producing limits of saugeyes quite regularly, according to local reports.
Deer Creek Lake (Pickaway, Fayette counties) – Elevated levels and muddy water are the name of the game right now at Deer Creek. However, crappies are still biting on weedlines and wind breaks in 10 to 13 feet of water. Anglers are utilizing small, 2-inch swimbaits in bright patterns under a slip bobber to produce fish. Interestingly, the crappie population at this lake is at a high point right now, according to the DNR Division of Wildlife. Ethan Simmons, a fisheries biologist for the division, said Deer Creek’s crappie rival that of Delaware Lake, which has long been a crappie hot spot.
Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, and Perry counties) – Minnows fished on the bottom and smaller shad-imitating swimbaits have been producing saugeyes and yellow perch here. The saugeyes have been healthy-looking specimens ranging up to 19 inches. The perch have been small, but there are plenty of them to be caught. Focus efforts on weed lines to target the perch. Saugeyes are biting best in 10 to 14 feet of water.
Lima Lake (Allen County) – The crappie bite at Lima Lake has been rather slow in the past week. Anglers are trying for them with jig and minnow combos or wax worms under a float. According to local reports, finding fish hasn’t been the problem, but short fish has been. Fishermen are struggling to find many keepers in the big picture. Catfish anglers have done better using shrimp or nightcrawlers under a float. Fish the bait on or near the bottom for best results.
Maumee River (Lucas County) – As of a report on June 7 from Maumee Bait and Tackle, water temperature on the Maumee was 67 degrees with 4-6 inches of water clarity and clearing. According to the bait shop, the catfish bite has been good all along the river. A good tip from Maumee Bait is to utilize nightcrawlers to catch the good eating size of catfish (smaller fish) and upsize your offering to cut shad and bigger baits for trophy size fish. Smallmouth bass, too, are being caught, according to the bait shop.
Maumee Bait and Tackle, www.maumeetackle.net
Sandusky Bay (Sandusky County) – The catfish bite on the bay is off the charts right now. Anglers fishing along Cedar Point are catching fish up to a healthy 22 pounds, according to local reports. They’re using raw shrimp for bait in most cases. A good tip is to target areas with good current and bottom irregularities to increase your chances of hooking up with a nice fish.
Pymatuning Lake (Ashtabula County) – It’s a mixed bag of catches on Pymatuning right now from walleyes to channel catfish. Most folks are using live bait offerings such as nightcrawler rigs or straight minnows under a float to catch walleyes up to 18 inches. Anglers report catching a lot of throwbacks under 15 inches before getting legal fish. Fishermen are also catching crappies, bluegills, and catfish on these same offerings. The north end of Pymatuning has been a particularly productive spot.
Mosquito Lake (Trumbull County) – Crappies are the primary catch at Mosquito Creek right now, according to angler reports. Fishermen, though, are complaining that most of the crappies being caught are in the 8- to 9-inch range. They’re finding weedlines and then targeting them with jig and minnow combinations or jig and trailers. Walleye fishing has been slower, with just a few reports of fishermen catching anything worthy of note. Catfish are ready biters through the summer, and fishermen are having luck producing channels up to 6 pounds or better.
West Branch Reservoir (Portage County) – Muskies are the hot topic on West Branch right now. Anglers report throwing big bucktails at the muskellunge and catching a few up to better than 40 inches. All of the fish we’ve seen reported were released after a good fight and a quick photo. Crappies, too, are being caught in 10 feet or so of water on jig and minnow combinations.
East Fork Lake (Clermont County) – This lake on the east side of Cincinnati is known for its crappies and hybrid stripers. Crappies seem to be a sure bet on almost any day where the hybrids are more hit and miss. In recent days, jig and minnow combinations are turning crappies in 10 to 13 feet of water. The big fish, according to local reports, is taping just a bit over 13 inches. Largemouth bass and channel catfish are other options here.
C.J. Brown Reservoir (Clark County) – Anglers using Jigging Rapalas have produced some walleyes at the only lake south of Interstate 70 in Ohio that is stocked with these tasty fish. The walleyes that are being caught are not giants in length – up to about 16 inches – but anglers are catching enough of them to make a nice meal. Crappies, too, are being caught around boat docks and other types of structure.
Acton Lake (Butler County) – Crappie anglers could do worse than making a trip to Acton Lake, which is part of Hueston Woods State Park. Anglers report fishing near the dam and producing loads of specks up to 12 inches. They’re using jigs in black and chartreuse patterns and it doesn’t seem to matter if the rig is tipped with meat or not. Water clarity hasn’t been the best with an abundance of precipitation and runoff, but it doesn’t seem to matter. The crappies are still eating. By the same token, we’re not hearing of many catching saugeyes.
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – When water temperatures and clarity have been good anglers are producing a mixed bag of fish at this lake just outside of Cambridge in southeast Ohio. Crappies have been the highlight, taping up to 12 inches and being caught on minnows, nightcrawlers, or wax worms under a float. If you can locate a stick up or other type of structure, all the better. Channel catfish have also been willing biters on chicken livers fished on the bottom.
Piedmont Lake (Belmont County) – The best saugeye bite in southeast Ohio is at Piedmont right now, according to local reports. The best setup is to troll for them with Flicker lures in 11 to 14 feet of water. Saugeyes are ranging up to 16 inches. Crappies, too, will be caught using these same methods. And, don’t overlook the lake’s channel catfish, which are easy biters on chicken livers or nightcrawlers fished along the bottom.
Tappan Lake (Harrison County) – It’s a rarity when we talk about flathead catfish in the fishing report but this is one of those times. An angler reports catching a nearly 50-inch flathead on Tappan in recent days. The fishermen was using cut bait fished in deeper water when the big fish took the bait. The fight lasted for 30 minutes or better before the flathead was boated. The angler took a quick picture and released the fish to fight another day. It’s more typical to report on the saugeye bite on this lake, but we’re not hearing of too many anglers catching them right now.
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, 2021, 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.
Where: Water temperatures have dropped in the past week in the Western Basin, which has caused the walleyes to move out to deeper water. Anglers are still managing to catch them while trolling Bandits in a variety of patterns, but they’re working harder for them. We’re not hearing much in the way of yellow perch catches. The cans of the Camp Perry Firing Range, off Kelley’s Island, and at the Marblehead lighthouse have all been prominent spots to catch walleyes.
Where: Anglers fishing in deeper water off Ashtabula (50 feet or better) are finding willing walleyes. According to local reports, the fish are ranging up to about a solid 20 inches and most are being caught on spoons in a variety of patterns. The color doesn’t seem to matter. Some bonus yellow perch have also been part of the creel.
We’re hearing reports of anglers catching northern pike while trolling for walleyes off 72nd Street in Cleveland. Nothing giant, but the toothy critters are hitting Perfect 10s in blue chrome patterns.
Steelhead, cleveland metroparks
Smallmouth bass are typically found in the deeper, rocky pools of the Rocky River during the day in early 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 in 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). Bass of all sizes are abundant in the river, with a healthy number of trophy lake-run fish available through at least early July. It has been very encouraging to see most anglers releasing the larger bass recently so that these fine game fish can be caught again. Rock bass are also present in the same river areas as smallmouth, and can be caught using the same offerings listed above.
Channel catfish and large carp are also present in some of these same areas in the river, and fishing for them can be a laid back and relaxing way to enjoy some time on the water. Lots of channel catfish stocked in late May also remain to be caught at Wallace Lake and the Ohio & Erie Canal fishing area. More catfish are scheduled to be stocked at various locations later in June, as well. These will include Shadow Lake, Ledge Lake, Ranger Lake, Oxbow Lagoon, Judge’s Lake and Strawberry Pond. Catfishing is usually best during lower light conditions using baits such as nightcrawlers, minnows, chicken liver, and processed dough baits. A good number of larger catfish are moving into the river from Lake Erie on their spawning run.
Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com