Report from the Dock
Fall water temperatures are still falling and some wintery weather on the North Coast has slowed the fishing a bit. However, anglers participating in the Walleye Fall Brawl and Walleye Slam are continuing to successfully ply the waters of the Western and Central Basins of Lake Erie. Those tournaments will be wrapping up at about the time this issue of Ohio Outdoor News goes to press. On inland waters, skim ice was forming on a lot of central and northern Ohio waters. But, when anglers have been able to get out, they’re catching saugeyes and crappies with some regularity.
Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – Anglers say the key to saugeye fishing right now is to slow your presentation down considerably in line with dropping water temperatures. Fishermen report throwing swimbaits such as Bobby Garlands in the south and middle pools to catch saugeyes up to 20 inches. They’re hugging the bottom right now, so be sure to get your bait deep, but not on the bottom proper. Crappies, too, are being caught by anglers finding laydowns in deep water and fishing them with a minnow setup, either a jig and minnow or minnow imitating soft bait.
Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – Anglers fishing the Buckeye Lake accesses at Lieb’s Island and Fairfield Beach have been catching saugeyes, although the bite has slowed down considerably from just two weeks ago. Temperatures have been cold enough for skim ice to set up on the lake on some days. When temperatures warm up in the afternoon, you can find willing saugeyes in 10 feet of water or so. Anglers are vertically jigging blade baits such as Vib-Es for them with some success. Fish have ranged up to 17 inches, according to recent reports.
Indian Lake (Logan County) – At times when the lake has not been covered in a layer of thin ice, anglers have had success catching saugeyes. A brief cold snap in mid-November made for difficult fishing, but things have changed in the past week. Saugeyes up to 20 inches or so have been caught around the Dream Bridge area and also off the Moundwood access in recent days. The better bite is coming for yellow perch, which fishermen are catching by focusing their efforts on weeds at the bottom of the lake. The yellow perch bite here is one of the best of any inland lake in Ohio, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife. For a full ice-fishing report on Indian, see the back page lake profile in this issue of Ohio Outdoor News.
Maumee River (Lucas County) – Water temperatureas of Nov. 19 was a cool 48 degrees and water clarity was about 6-8 inches. Water levels are still low just about everywhere on the river, according to Maumee Bait and Tackle. The tackle shop reports that anglers are pulling some decent crappies and bluegills from feeder creeks off the Maumee. The night bite on Lake Erie is still going strong with some of the biggest fish of the year coming close to shore right now.
Maumee Bait and Tackle, www.maumeetackle.net
Findlay Reservoirs (Hancock County) – Yellow perch is the name of the game right now on this pair of reservoirs in the City of Findlay. Anglers are finding weedlines and fishing them with soft plastics such as swimbaits in minnow pattern to produce fish. A jig and minnow combination would also work as would a simple minnow under a float. Perch can get big here, up to 12 inches, and the bite is fairly consistent. Walleyes are also stocked here, but the bite for them is a lot more finicky, according to local anglers.
Pleasant Hill Lake (Richland, Ashland counties) – The saugeye bite at Pleasant Hill is about the best thing going right now in this region. Anglers are catching them up to 18 inches by throwing small crankbaits or jerkbaits in 12 to 15 feet of water. Slow the presentation down during the later fall months in cold water as these fish will be sluggish. But, they have to eat to put on that needed weight for the long winter ahead. Saugeyes must be at least 15 inches to keep, and the daily bag limit is six fish.
Nimisila Reservoir (Summit County) – Fishermen have had good luck recently catching slab crappies and largemouth bass. When temperatures have allowed, anglers are dunking Gulp! minnows to catch fish in as little as 6 feet of water. They’re catching crappies ranging up to 12 inches and largemouth bass of 2-3 pounds. The fishing should only get better when the ice comes on this lake, especially for the panfish. The night bite at Nimisila has been non-existent, according to local angler reports. Better off fishing during the warmer parts of the day – mid-afternoon.
West Branch Reservoir (Portage County) – Water levels are extremely low on West Branch right now, but some are still out searching for muskies. One angler reports catching and releasing a 43-inch muskie in recent days by throwing a big crankbait in the woody shallows. Some are shore fishing to catch small crappies by employing blade baits on a slow twitch and retrieve or soft swimbaits. Crappies are only being reported up to about 9 inches.
Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) – Anglers are catching a mixed bag of fish at Mosquito right now, all gearing up for the hardwater season. Fishermen report catching walleyes, crappies, bluegills, yellow perch, and channel catfish in recent days. One angler suggests using simple crappie nibbles or a minnow rig to catch any/all of the above-mentioned species. A lot of anglers are concentrating on the docks to catch fish. One walleye landed in the last few days taped at 25 inches. The crappies, too, have been decent size, and the catfish are ranging up to a real decent 5 pounds.
C.J. Brown Reservoir (Clark County) – Fishermen are trolling this lake near Springfield in southwest Ohio for muskies. One angler reports catching and releasing “a good size” muskie in recent days by fishing a big spinnerbait off the back. This lake is stocked with walleyes, too, but there haven’t been many recent reports of anglers catching them. Crappies are another option, and these panfish can range up to 12 inches here. Any type of minnow rig or a small swimbait in minnow pattern will produce crappies and probably even some bluegills.
East Fork Lake (Clermont County) – Anglers are targeting standing timber in 12 to 15 feet of water to find crappies at this lake in suburban Cincinnati. East Fork is a pretty good crappie lake, and late fall anglers are taking advantage of it, catching fish ranging up to 12 inches or so. You can’t go wrong with a jig and minnow or jig and plastic combination. The key right now is to slow down the presentation since the water is swiftly cooling and the fish are sluggish.
Caesar Creek Lake (Warren, Clinton, Greene counties) – Although accessing the lake may be difficult right now, those anglers that have ventured out in kayaks or fishing from shore have been finding some willing crappies. Use a jig and minnow combo to catch fish or simply a minnow under a float. We haven’t seen much reported in the way of saugeyes and muskies in recent days.
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Fishing has slowed some since our last report and the only good thing going right now it seems is the panfish bite. Anglers are having some luck catching crappies and bluegills by using swimbaits or by vertically jigging blades. Catfish are also a late fall option, and these fish can be caught on the same baits. Not hearing much in the way of the saugeye bite.
Piedmont Lake (Belmont County) – If you’re fishing for saugeyes in southeast Ohio, Piedmont is one of the better bets. Anglers in the past week have been catching a few – not loads – but some decent specimens up to 17 inches have been in the mix. They’re vertically jigging blade baits or slow trolling swimbaits to catch fish. Muskies are also an option here, but we’re not hearing much chatter on that species right now.
Tappan Lake (Harrison County) – Fishermen continue to catch decent numbers of crappies at this Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District lake. The popular set up has been a swimbait in natural colors, or a jig and minnow combo fished vertically. Saugeye reports have been slower. Catfish are also an option at Tappan, and they will continue to be caught through the winter.
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 running out of Cranberry Creek are doing well for walleyes, some up to 6 pounds or better. The popular set up has been to troll Bandits in fire tiger pattern in 35 feet of water. On Put-In-Bay, anglers are casting Husky Jerks from the shoreline to produce walleyes. Tennessee shad has been the popular pattern on the HJs.
Anglers diving minnows toward the bottom near the Bass Islands and on the reefs are catching good numbers of perch. Emerald shiners are typically the best bait for perch, but most minnows will work.
Where: Anglers launching out of the East 72nd Street access in Cleveland have been night fishing to produce limits of walleyes. The best bite is coming in 20 to 25 feet of water for fishermen trolling Bandits in cheap sunglasses or IB frozen patterns. Others are fishing the Cleveland area breakwalls at night with Perfect 10s to produce walleyes, some of which are ranging up to the mid-20s in length. Rapala Husky Jerks in Helsinki and blue chrome patterns are also producing walleyes.
Perch reports in the Central Basin have been a bit slower than in the West, but some are still being caught, just not in big numbers like they are in the Western Basin.
The Rocky, Chagrin, and Ashtabula rivers and Conneaut Creek have been the go-to places for steelhead in the past week. The best bet is to fish the deeper holes on these rivers. Anglers are landing steelhead by using dime-sized spawn sacs in colored mesh, light maribou or hair jigs tipped with a wax worm or maggot, or salmon egg mimicking beads fished near the bottom.
Anglers on the Rocky, Chagrin and Cuyahoga rivers have been pursuing steelhead. Stream levels are low and clear at this time and steelhead fishing is calling for finesse techniques. Finesse offerings are most effective under our current conditions with smaller spawn sacks (dime size or smaller in more subdued colors like white, peach, pale yellow, or blue), live minnows, 1⁄64- or 1⁄32-ounce jigs tipped with maggots, and salmon egg mimmicking beads drifted on 6-pound fluorocarbon leaders under floats in deeper runs. Fly fishing with egg patterns and streamers has also yielded some hook-ups, as have spoons, spinners and crankbaits. Steelhead are available off the breakwall at E. 55th Marina and off the rocks at Edgewater Park, as well as Wildwood Park.
Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com