Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) — Muddy water at Alum Creek Lake in central Ohio has anglers chasing catfish. All you need is a hunk of nightcrawler and a weight to keep it on the bottom. Some decent size channel cats have been caught in the past week, according to angler reports. Fishermen will start chasing smallmouth bass and saugeyes when the water temperatures warm a bit.
Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) — Anglers are catching a mixed bag of fish at Buckeye, including hybrid stripers, saugeyes, and channel catfish. Shore anglers are doing OK on panfish as well. The popular setup at this time of year is a jig and minnow combination or jig with a chartreuse skirt due to muddy water conditions. For catfish and stripers, fish the bait close to the bottom.
Indian Lake (Logan County) — The main lake is covered in a thin layer of ice still, but Moundwood is open and crowded, according to angler reports. Fishermen are doing OK on saugeyes and crappies using vibrating blade baits or jigging minnows. Some of the saugeyes being reported have been in the 15- to 16-inch range. Crappies have been a respectable nine to 11 inches.
Willard Reservoir (Huron County) — Anglers were fishing Willard about a week before this report was written in early March. Fishermen were catching channel catfish, crappies, and bluegills from the cold water. Most success is coming on live bait such as nightcrawlers or minnows. Fish the bait deep for catfish and shallower for crappies and bluegills.
Maumee River (Lucas County) — A few anglers are trying for walleyes on the Maumee, according to Maumee Bait and Tackle, but they have yet to see any walleyes caught, according to their report. Many of the access sites on the Maumee are still iced in and it will be a short while before they clear up. A warm-up toward the end of the week and into the weekend should serve to melt some of the ice. Stay tuned to this fishing report for information on the spring walleye run when it gets started.
Maumee Bait and Tackle, www.maumeetackle.net
Lake Erie (East Harbor) — Anglers were still going after primarily pumpkinseeds, bluegills, and crappies through the ice in early March, according to reporting from contributing writer John Hageman. Ice remained on East Harbor as of March 4 away from thin shoreline ice. High winds in early March served to muddy the water, though, and catch numbers were much lower than previously. Water clarity is clearing, though, according to Hageman, and the fishing prospects here remain bright.
West Branch Lake (Portage County) — This is a great time of year to focus on this lake’s muskie population. Muskies at this time of year will be in shallow water, chasing a meal. They can be caught on crankbaits and stickbaits in a variety of patterns. As soon as there is open water, shoreline anglers fishing near the dam will have a good shot at catching a muskie. West Branch is one of the better muskie lakes in northeast Ohio, according to the DNR Division of Wildlife.
Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) — As of this writing in late February, anglers were still ice fishing on six inches of hard water. The cemetery area has been a popular fishing spot for most of the winter and it continues to be the hot location. Anglers are catching good numbers of crappies through the ice on pin mins tipped with a minnow or jig and minnow combinations. Crappies are running the gamut from small six-inchers up to 12 inches.
Pymatuning Lake (Ashtabula County) — Recent reports indicate light fishing pressure on Pymatuning due to questionable ice and not enough open water to speak of. An angler in late February, though, did report catching a nice smallmouth bass on Pymatuning in one of the coves. Look for crappies and walleyes to start biting again once water temperatures warm up a bit.
Caesar Creek Lake (Warren, Clinton, Greene counties) — Water is reportedly a bit too high still to launch a boat at Caesar Creek, but shore anglers are fishing and faring OK. They’re mostly fishing for panfish and white bass with limited success. Water clarity is turbid. Try a minnow under a float to catch any of the above-mentioned species.
Rocky Fork Lake (Highland County) — Anglers who have been out on Rocky Fork in recent days report that they are catching crappies, yellow perch, and white bass. The best bite is coming in 15 to 18 feet of water for fishermen using jig and minnow or jig and twister tail combinations.
Grand Lake St. Marys (Mercer, Auglaize counties) — Crappies are the main quarry that anglers are after right now. Some have been caught on the typical spring offerings of jigs tipped with minnows or wax worms. Sizes being reported range from six to 11 inches.
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) — Anglers are searching out saugeyes below the spillway on Salt Fork right now. The fish should be in there for the angler willing to give it a shot. Remember, snagging a saugeye is not a legal method of catch. On the main lake, anglers are fishing it and marking lots of baitfish but little catching going on.
Seneca Lake (Noble, Guernsey counties) — Water is high and muddy and there isn’t much fishing success to report, aside from a stray channel catfish sighting. Anglers are attempting to use blade baits such as Vib-Es and that is what the catfish are biting on. Not much size reported, though, with most catfish in the 10-inch range or so. The spillway may be the best option on Seneca at this time.
Piedmont Lake (Belmont County) — Anglers fishing the spillway for saugeyes have witnessed an inconsistent bite of late. Depending on the amount of water being pushed through, the bite is on some days and off on others. The best setup to use at this time of year is a small crankbait or a jig and minnow combo. You might also try crappies by fishing wax worms under a float.
Lake Erie Region
• The bag limit for walleye in Ohio waters of Lake Erie is four fish per angler until April 30. The minimum size limit for walleye is 15 inches.
• The daily bag limit for yellow perch is 30 fish per angler in all Ohio waters of Lake Erie.
• The trout and salmon daily bag limit is two fish per angler. The minimum size limit is 12 inches.
New for 2019:
A Lake Erie fishing permit is required for nonresidents from Jan. 1 to April 30 when fishing Lake Erie and areas immediately upstream in creeks, rivers, and tributaries.
According to reporting by contributing writer John Hageman, there has not been sufficient ice formation to allow ice fishing from mainland sites. A February thaw allowed some boats to be launched out of Huron. Ice fishing does continue at Put-In-Bay, although high winds on Feb. 24-25 made life difficult for anglers. Muddy water that suspended catches cleared in about a week, but widespread landings of the mostly 2015- hatched walleyes has resumed near Rattlesnake Island at press time.
The Rocky River and other area streams are offering very good fishing conditions and steelhead have been biting well. The streams have been slushy on mornings following temperatures dipping much below freezing, but it has been mostly gone by afternoon. Steelhead are well dispersed throughout the river systems, with the freshest fish being concentrated in the northern river reaches closer to Lake Erie. On the Rocky, that is roughly from Morley Ford (just south of Lorain Road bridge) and north to the marina. It was hard to beat a brightly colored (hot pink and chartreuse are often best) nickel size bag of salmon or trout eggs when the water was stained side this week. As the water further clears into the weekend, steelhead will bite a variety of offerings, including smaller dime size spawn bags, marabou jigs under floats (black, pink, and white are top colors), beads that mimic salmon eggs, and flies (egg patterns and baitfish streamers). In winter, a wobbling crankbait worked slowly through a deep hole can also produce well at times. One strategy that can be employed when the fish are most pressured, such as on weekends, is to show the fish an offering or color they are less likely to have seen yet, and change things up until something works (a blue egg sac or unusual fly pattern would be examples). Getting out early on weekends also hedges bets in the angler’s favor, unless the morning is cold enough to make the river overly slushy. Steelhead numbers can be expected to peak into March-April.
Lake Erie shoreline harbors still have ice cover (boat launches are not usable), but it has degraded since last week. There is an abundance of gizzard shad in nearshore harbor areas, as well. With a south wind, anglers have a shot at steelhead and yellow perch at the E. 55th breakwall, although north and northeast winds will push ice pack up along the shoreline. Be very careful along ice covered shoreline rocks at places like Edgewater Park.
Anglers have a shot at trout on various Metroparks lakes, especially on Wallace Lake. Throughout the winter, a total of 7,100 pounds of rainbow trout were stocked in Metroparks lakes, as follows: Wallace (3,900 lbs), Shadow (1,500 lbs), Ledge (1,200 lbs), Judge’s (300 lbs), and Ranger (200 lbs) lakes. In addition to rainbow trout averaging between 1 and 2 pounds, quite a few bonus brown, brook trout, and golden rainbow trout were included (especially in Wallace Lake). Trout are also available at Ohio & Erie Canal fishing area down the hill from CanalWay Visitor Center off E. 49th Street. Please note the current seasonal trout regulations: Lake Erie and all streams, two/day, minimum size 12 inches (this includes steelhead); three/day, no size limit at Wallace, Ledge, Judge’s, and Ranger lakes; and five/day, no size limit at Shadow Lake and Ohio & Erie Canal. Trout through the ice bite well on small to medium size jigging spoons with silver or gold colors, small marabou jigs tipped with grubs, PowerBait in bright colors, live minnows, and salmon eggs/small spawn sacs.
Ice quality has degraded at our inland lakes and ponds recently and should not be considered safe. Anglers can still fish from the safety of shore in areas where the water drops off quickly, such as from docks, other platforms, etc.
Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com