Report from the Dock
Fall water temperatures are cooling and the fishing has been fantastic from Salt Fork Lake in southeast Ohio to Lake Erie on the North Coast. On inland waters, saugeyes, yellow perch, and crappies are the highlight right now with anglers doing well on all species. Saugeyes are being caught relating to structure and on deep water points leading to flats. Muskies, too, are being caught and released right now. Steelhead fishing is heating up on the Lake Erie tributaries. Anglers fishing Lake Erie proper are cashing in on walleyes and yellow perch.
Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – Saugeyes are biting for anglers using blade baits, either fishing from shore or on the water in a boat. The key is to target times with a bit of wind and then find the shad. The saugeyes won’t be far behind. Specimens are ranging up to a healthy 19 inches. Crappies and yellow perch are also an option. Some smallmouth and largemouth bass are also being caught in the middle and north pools.
Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – Anglers continue to catch fall saugeyes at Buckeye and some crappies and catfish have also been thrown into the mix. The saugeyes are coming for anglers employing swimbaits or blade baits, fished in 10 to 12 feet of water. Jig and minnow combos are also working for these hybrids. Crappies and catfish will hit the same baits and are a bonus catch.
Indian Lake (Logan County) – Fishermen fishing the Moundwood access and around Dream Bridge are catching saugeyes, crappies, yellow perch, and channel catfish – sometimes all in the same trip! They’re using small crankbaits or swimbaits to get all of the above-mentioned species to bite. The best saugeye fishing is coming shallow – around 8 feet in many instances. Target weed edges for the perch and crappies, and the catfish will be hanging in these spots, too.
Maumee River (Lucas County) – Water temperatureas of Oct. 24 was a cool 53 degrees and water clarity was about a foot. Water levels are low just about everywhere on the river, according to Maumee Bait and Tackle. Anglers fishing the river and nearshore Lake Erie spots right now are trying to find crappies. The best bet is to identify some type of underwater structure, tied on a minnow and float, and get to work. Smallmouth bass are another fall option on the river, and anglers have also been rewarded with some northern pike in recent days, according to the bait shop.
Maumee Bait and Tackle, www.maumeetackle.net
Findlay Reservoir No. 2 (Hancock County) – Smallmouth bass is a good option at Findlay. You can try a couple of different baits to attempt to catch bronzebacks here – simple spinnerbaits or soft plastics. Smallmouths get fairly big here, ranging up to a respectable 18 inches. Yellow perch and walleyes are also options with the former being more prevalent than the latter. Find a weed edge and throw a swimbait at it to catch perch up to 12 inches or so.
Sandusky Bay (Sandusky County) – The channel catfish bite on Sandusky Bay is a good in the fall as it is at any time of year. Anglers armed with shrimp for bait are doing well for catfish, landing fish up to 10 pounds, which translates into one heck of a fight on line’s end. The old railroad bridge is a popular spot, but really catfish can be caught anywhere in the bay.
Pymatuning Reservoir (Ashtabula County) – This big lake is a good option if you’re looking for yellow perch on an inland reservoir. Anglers right now are searching out weed lines and throwing either live minnows or minnow-imitating plastics to catch perch up to 12 inches. We’re not hearing much in the way of the walleye bite right now. Pymatuning seems to be one of those lakes where you have to dial in a definite pattern in order to consistently catch walleyes. Some good size muskies – 40 inches or better – have been caught and released in recent days. For a full report on Pymatuning’s Ohio side offerings, see the back page of this issue of Ohio Outdoor News.
Mosquito Lake (Trumbull) – Anglers are catching a load of crappies at Mosquito right now, but we’ve seen plenty of reports of fishermen complaining about a lack of size. One angler said he caught 50 crappies in one recent outing with only six being keepers. There’s a 9-inch keeper limit on crappies here and a 30-fish daily bag. The best crappie bite we’re hearing of is coming in 13 to 15 feet of water on Bobby Garlands and Crappie Nibbles. Walleye reports continue to be slow. There’s no length limit on keeper walleyes at Mosquito.
Lake Milton (Mahoning County) – Anglers are getting out in the early morning and later evening hours to catch walleyes here. They’re vertically jigging blade baits in 15 to 17 feet of water to pick up fish. Crappies and yellow perch are also options here. Tie on a minnow under a float and you can catch all the panfish you like.
Rocky Fork Lake (Highland County) – It’s an often overlooked option at Rocky Fork, but this southern Ohio lake does contain some yellow perch. Anglers report catching a few recently, and all of them are good size specimens – up to 13 inches. One angler reports catching a decent size perch while using shrimp for bait in search of channel catfish. Bluegills and crappies are also an option here and a pretty good one. Fish for them with Bobby Garland swimbaits or live bait offerings. The saugeye bite seems to be a tough one, and your best bet might be to target the spillway for these hybrids.
East Fork Lake (Clermont County) – The crappie bite continues to be a good one at East Fork and anglers are also catching some hybrid striped bass and white bass. The best bite is coming in anywhere from 8 to 13 feet of water for anglers using a variety of baits from perch patterned swimbaits to small crankbaits and stickbaits. This lake is also stocked with saugeyes, although we haven’t seen any recent reports of anyone catching them.
Great Miami River (Butler County) – Fishermen hitting the river in the stretch close to Middletown are catching channel catfish and smallmouth bass. The surprising bait of choice has been an inline roostertail spinnerbait. This multi-species artificial is a good bet in the stream, locals report. The catfish ranged up to a respectable 5 pounds and the smallmouth bass were running on the smaller side at about 12-13 inches.
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Stickbaits fished right after dark are producing saugeyes at Salt Fork right now, according to local angler reports. Others are vertically jigging blade baits such as Vib-Es to produce saugeyes. Fishermen fishing from the bank are also producing fish – bluegills, yellow perch, and largemouth bass. The best bait has been a piece of live nightcrawler or wax worm fished under a float. A nice, relaxing way to fish. The perch have been on the small side, but the bluegills have been hand-sized. Bass are ranging up to 14 inches.
Piedmont Lake (Belmont County) – Anglers are fishing for saugeyes and muskies at Piedmont right now and having some success for each species. The saugeye and muskies are actually being found in similar spots, relating to structure in 15 to 16 feet of water, looking for prey. The saugeyes are ranging up to a healthy 17 inches and some muskies will go over 40 inches here. Anglers are trolling Flicker Shad for the saugeyes while others are vertically jigging blade baits. Crappies and catfish are other options here.
Tappan Lake (Harrison County) – Crappies are the name of the game right now at Tappan, according to local angler reports. The best bite is coming in 15 to 18 feet of water for anglers using minnow rigs under a slip float. The saugeye bite has been a bit tougher, but should improve as we head deeper into the fall months. Try vertically jigging a blade bait to catch saugeyes during the late fall and early winter months.
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: Anglers on the Western Basin are concentrating efforts on the reefs early in the morning to catch limits of walleyes. But, they’re working for them with most of the pack of walleyes now headed for the cooler waters of the Central Basin. In the West, you can start finding walleyes in about 14 feet of water. Trolling Bandits or drift and casting crawler harnesses has been the popular setup.
Anglers fishing around the cans of the Camp Perry Firing Range are producing good size perch. They’re using cut emerald shiners in most instances to produce fish. Fishermen are also targeting an area north of Catawba for perch as well. The key is to get your bait as close to bottom as possible, according to angler reports.
Where: Anglers fishing out of Vermilion west to Huron are producing limits of fish by trolling Bandits are fairly high speeds (1.6 to 1.8 mph). Popular patterns for the baits have been IB Frozen and Cheap Sunglasses. Fat and healthy walleyes have been the winning ticket. Also, anglers fishing out of Cleveland are producing limits of walleyes and some nice steelhead specimens to boot.
Anglers fishing at the mouth of the Huron River are finding willing perch ranging up to 11 inches. Be aware of your location when fishing here as perch limits are different depending on where you are in Huron. Emerald shiners on a spreader have been the hot bait. Anglers fishing the mouth of the Vermilion River are also doing well for perch.
Steelhead (cleveland metroparks)
Anglers on the Rocky, Chagrin and Cuyahoga rivers have been pursuing steelhead trout. Streams got a small bump in flow with the rain last week but water levels will be relatively low for the weekend based on the dry forecast. The best steelhead fishing prospects on the Rocky River willl be in the deeper holes throughout the main branch of the river as well as in the lower rivers from the first riffle at Scenic Park (just upstream of the public boat ramps) to Lake Erie. Fallen leaves are heavy in the river at this time, especially in the slower water, making fishing these areas more challenging. Anglers are hooking steelhead using smaller dime spawn sacks (salmon or trout eggs) in colored mesh, light marabou or hair jigs tipped with a wax worm or a few maggots, live minnows, and salmon egg mimmicking beads drifted near the bottom. In low and clear stream conditions, downsizing to a lighter flourocarbon leader and smaller float can help. Steelhead contine to be caught off the breakwall at E55th marina.
Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com