Report from the Dock
A serious cold snap at the end of December put the brakes on most of the open water fishing on inland waters though anglers were still venturing out on Lake Erie when they could find an ice-free ramp. Walleyes continue to be caught in the Western Basin and Central Basin of Lake Erie with some regularity. It should be a terrific ice season on the Western Basin should good ice form in the next few weeks. Inland fishing has been pretty much confined to fishing below the dams in the moving water. Saugeyes and crappies are the name of the game at those places.
Editor’s note: This fishing report was written just prior to a big winter storm hitting much of the entire state. Therefore, conditions could be much different now. Safe ice should start forming on inland lakes, but always be sure of safe ice before venturing out. Take a spud bar on any body of water you go to and be sure of ice thickness before venturing too far.
Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – With cold air temperatures in place, much of Alum Creek in Delaware County was locked up in a thin layer of ice at the time of this writing in late December. It’s not thick enough for anglers to venture out on just yet, so be patient. A cold snap at the end of the year should help move things along. Meanwhile, anglers fishing below the spillway here are managing a few fish here and there. We’ve seen reports of saugeyes, crappies, and muskies all being taken below the dam. Anglers are ripping crankbaits or vertically jigging blade baits to produce the bite.
Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – Prior to the cold snap that blanketed Central Ohio in late December, anglers were having decent luck catching saugeyes, which should bode well for the ice-fishing season should one develop this winter. Before that, though, anglers were vertically jigging blades and pulling small crankbaits to catch fish up to 22 inches or so. A lot of good size, legal fish have been in the mix. Crappies, too, are being caught along with some bluegills.
Indian Lake (Logan County) – When this shallow old canal lake has not been locked up in a thin layer of ice, anglers are catching good numbers of saugeyes, yellow perch, and crappies. Just about any of the access points on Indian has been a good bet for catching fish. Yellow perch continue to related to submergent weedlines, and the saugeyes aren’t far behind. Fishermen are employing ice-fishing tactics to catch either of these species. A small ice jig tipped with a wax worm, maggot, or minnow will catch fish at this time of year.
Maumee River (Lucas County) – Water temperature as of Dec. 14 was dropping to a cool 39 degrees and water clarity was about 10 inches. The folks at Maumee Bait and Tackle reports that this is a good time of year to target northern pike on the river. Pike tend to hang out in the weeds during the warmer months of the year in order to ambush prey. In winter, with a lack of weeds, look for these big predators in downed trees and deeper pockets in backwater areas of the river. The area behind Fort Meigs access would be a good spot to try. Casting big spoons and slow rolling them is as good a bet as any to catch one of these toothy predators during the winter.
Maumee Bait and Tackle, www.maumeetackle.net
Pleasant Hill Reservoir (Richland, Ashland counties) – Fishermen are focusing their efforts below the spillway on this big lake to catch saugeyes and crappies. The key is a slow presentation on whichever bait you choose. Crappies and saugeyes are lethargic at this time of year, but they still have to eat. A good bet for both species at this time of year is to vertically jig a blade bait. An angler can cover a lot of water in a short time with this presentation.
Lake Erie harbors (Ottawa County) – Bluegills, largemouth bass, and crappies are the top wintertime targets in these areas. Anglers fishing these parts keep their baits simple – a jig and minnow combo or simply a minnow beneath a float – to land fish. Some hand-size bluegills and decent size crappies can be caught just before ice up and on through the ice-fishing season.
Pymatuning Reservoir (Ashtabula County) – About the only thing being mentioned right now on Pymatuning fishing is the decent yellow perch bite. Anglers are also mentioning how low water levels are at this large lake spanning the Ohio and Pennsylvania border. The yellow perch that are being caught have ranged from tiny to jumbo, 14-inch size. Anglers are going with the tried and true jig and minnow combination to catch perch. The best bet to target perch, according to anglers in the know, is to look for submergent weedlines and drop your bait just on the outside edge. Perch, or even walleyes at times, will bust out from the cover in search of an easy meal.
West Branch Reservoir (Portage County) – Most of the fishing on West Branch right now is confined to the area around the dam where water is still moving. Anglers are using dropshot rigs to get into the rocks around the docks to catch decent size bluegills. Fishermen are also catching some yellow perch in these locations, although they’ve been very small. Not hearing much in the way of walleye or muskie catches here in recent days.
Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) – With thin ice locking up much of the lake, anglers have been confined to the docks, where they’re employing ice-fishing techniques to catch crappies, bluegills, and yellow perch. The fishing has been good at times. Just depends on the time of day and willingness of fish to eat. Anglers are using ice jigs tipped with a wax worm or minnow and vertically jigging the rig to pick up fish. No mention of anyone catching a walleye in recent days.
Mad River (various counties) – Anglers are using both fly-fishing gear and conventional spinning tackle to catch nice size brown trout at various access points on the Mad. The Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife stocks both browns and rainbow trout into the Mad River. Spincasting anglers in recent days are using jig and feather combos to land browns up to 14 inches. To add a bit of action to your setup, consider attaching a small spinnerblade to the rig to add a bit of flash.
East Fork Lake (Clermont County) – Crappies are the top target at East Fork, which is not unusual for this top panfish producer in southwest Ohio. Anglers are targetting 10- to 12-foot depths and fishing the submerged brush piles to find fish up to 13 inches. They’re also catching some largemouth bass along the shoreline by throwing inline spinnerbaits against the rocks. Anglers have been primarily fishing from shore, but a few have ventured out in canoes or kayaks.
Caesar Creek Lake (Warren, Clinton, Greene counties) – Anglers are having good luck landing crappies on various parts of this large, southwest Ohio lake. Shoreline anglers are using simple jig setups to catch crappies up to 12 inches. Some are also venturing onto the cold water in kayaks to catch crappies and the occasional largemouth bass. We’re not hearing much in the way of saugeye or muskie catches right now.
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Bluegills, crappies, and the occasional yellow perch have been caught by shoreline anglers in recent days. Fishermen are taking advantage of the dock bite for panfish during this cold time of year. Fishermen are reporting catching enough of the three species to make a meal or two out of it. Nothing large in size being reported, just a steady pick of panfish from the comfort of the dock. Use a jig and minnow combo for best results.
Piedmont Lake (Belmont County) – Saugeyes and crappies are being caught at the dam, although the bite has been a slow pick at best. We’re currently in a time of transition from late fall open water to frigid water temperatures and skim ice. When anglers have been able to find fish at the spillway, they’re vertically jigging blades such as Vib-Es to pick up fish.
Leesville Lake (Carroll County) – We’ve been seeing reports of anglers catching and releasing good size muskies in recent days on what may just be the best muskie lake in the state of Ohio. These anglers are searching out woody shorelines and throwing big bucktail spinnerbaits at the muskies with some success. One angler recently caught and released a 40-inch-plus fish. Crappies and saugeyes also inhabit this lake, but we’re not hearing much in the way of reports for these two species.
Lake Erie Region
Where: When anglers have been able to launch from an ice-free ramp, they’re finding fish near G Can. Nothing of real size to report, just legal fish coming in daily bag limits. No particular pattern on the Bandit crankbaits has been mentioned – most any color is working.
The Bass Islands’ reef complex has been a popular spot for perch anglers in recent days. Look for the pack of boats on the water and join them. Crappie spreaders tipped with minnows is always the go-to setup for yellow perch.
Where: Anglers fishing out of Gordon Park are finding willing walleyes in 40 feet of water. Bandits behind divers has been the top ticket. The night bite for walleyes from the shoreline continues to go well with anglers primarily throwing Rapala Husky Jerks in Helsinki and blue chrome patterns.
Fishermen fishing off the shoreline in Cleveland are catching yellow perch, walleyes, and steelhead along the rocks.