Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – There is still a little ice left in some of the lake’s coves, but anglers should always be aware of thin spots on this lake. Some fishermen have shifted to fishing docks wherever they can find them. Swedish Pimples and waxworms are taking a few yellow perch and crappies. The saugeye bite has been virtually nonexistent, according to angler reports.
Indian Lake (Logan County) – The ice had been reported up to 10 inches thick on this Logan County lake as of mid-January but an extreme warm-up likely deteriorated it to a massive degree. While the ice lasted, anglers were catching a few decent crappies at Long Island. Successful fishermen were using jig and minnow combos or jig and waxworms.
Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – While the ice lasted on this large central Ohio lake, anglers were fishing the marsh area to catch crappies, bluegills, and largemouth bass through the holes. Jigging Rapalas and Swedish Pimples were reported as the baits of choice.
East Harbor (Lake Erie) – Anglers were fishing the harbor through the ice in late January and early February and picking up some panfish. Anglers have been catching mainly bluegills and crappies on Vib-Es, Jigging Rapalas, or Swedish Pimples. Also, a lively minnow will work well.
Fostoria Reservoir No. 5 (Hancock County) – Fishermen as of late January were still fishing through the ice here. Be certain to spud your way out to test for proper ice thickness. Those anglers who have been on the ice have been rewarded with saugeyes and crappies. Anglers are using Jigging Rapalas and Swedish Pimples for the best bite through the holes. Also, waxworms have been mentioned as catching a few panfish.
Willard Reservoir (Huron County) – Anglers fishing the north end of this lake have been catching yellow perch and a few channel catfish, according to reports. The best bait has been live offerings such as minnows, waxworms, or nightcrawlers.
Berlin Lake (Portage, Mahoning, Stark counties) – Anglers were still drilling through the ice on Berlin in late January and producing some nice catches of walleye and crappies. The best bite is coming in about 15-17 feet of water. The popular baits have been Jigging Rapalas and Vib-Es. Some channel catfish are also being caught and released.
Nimisila Reservoir (Summit County) – Anglers continue to report about six inches of good ice at Nimisila and they are catching the yellow perch. The successful bite has been coming in about 15 feet of water for anglers fishing minnows on the bottom. Try low light periods, dawn and dusk, for the better bite.
Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) – Even after the warm spell that we experienced in mid-January, anglers were still reporting up to six inches of ice on this lake. Fishermen are catching panfish, but striking out on walleyes. Anglers are catching yellow perch, sunfish, and bluegills through the holes, primarily on the north side of the lake.
Caesar Creek Lake (Warren, Clinton, Greene counties) – Some boats were spotted on the lake in late January after a warm-up in temperatures opened most of the lake up. Anglers are reporting catching crappies in 10 to 15 feet of water around bridge pilings. Try a jig and minnow combo or a waxworm or nightcrawler under a float.
Paint Creek Lake (Highland County) – In late January and early February, anglers were concentrating their efforts on the spillway with much of the main lake still covered in a thin layer of ice. Crappies are being caught at the spillway on jigs with black or black and blue trailers.
Grand Lake St. Marys (Mercer, Auglaize counties) – Either in open water or through the ice, anglers are catching crappies here with some regularity. A mid-January warm up opened up many areas of the lake. The crappies are being caught on straight minnows suspended in the water column. Some crappies have been reported up to 12 inches.
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – In late January, anglers were fishing off the docks where they could find open water. The catches being reported were crappies and channel catfish primarily, nothing of much size to report.
Seneca Lake (Noble, Guernsey counties) – Anglers are fishing the spillway at Seneca and catching a few saugeyes and crappies. At this time of year, Jigging Rapalas are a good bait to try. Also, jig and small minnow combos are tough to beat. Some of the crappies being reported are up to 10 inches.
Tuscarawas River (various counties) – Anglers are targeting the creek mouths to catch some channel catfish on the river. Other fishermen are throwing spinnerbaits at the smallmouth bass here with some success. If you can target a time when the river isn’t high and muddy, that will offer the best time for the bite.
Lake Erie Region
• The bag limit for walleye in Ohio waters of Lake Erie is six fish per angler. 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.
There have been a limited number of ice-fishing reports west of South Bass Island and from harbors on the mainland. Use extreme caution when ice fishing on Lake Erie, according to the DNR Division of Wildlife.
A combined 3,000 pounds of rainbow trout were stocked at Wallace, Shadow, Ledge, Judge’s, and Ranger lakes in Cleveland Metroparks last week, although ice conditions have degraded significantly over the past week and should not be considered safe at the time of this writing. The Lake Erie shoreline ice has broken up, although marina and harbor areas are still largely ice covered.
Area streams were producing decent catches of steelhead during windows of fishable conditions. In stained water, a brightly colored spawn sac about the size of a nickel has been a top producer, although bright or contrasting colored fly patterns also catch muddy steelhead under such conditions. There has been a mix of fresh steelhead and darker fish that have already been in the river. Some of the best steelhead fishing of the season is ahead of us. Although the lakefront shoreline proper ice has largely broken up, the protected marina and harbor areas are still ice covered. Ice fishing for steelhead and yellow perch had been very good, but the ice has degraded significantly this week and should not be considered safe.
A total of 3,000 pounds of trout were stocked in five Cleveland Metroparks locations last week. These fish complement the 3,000 pounds stocked back in mid-December at the same locations. This concludes Cleveland Metroparks’ scheduled winter trout stocking. Ice conditions have degraded significantly this week and were not safe to venture onto at the time of this writing. Good news is that anglers can fish through questionable ice from the safety of fishing platforms, docks, and areas where the water drops off immediately near shore (especially on the formerly quarried northwest end of Wallace Lake). Some trout also remain from an October stocking at Ohio and Erie Canal fishing area down the hill from CanalWay Visitor Center off E. 49th Street.
Trout through the ice typically bite well on PowerBait, jigs tipped with a few maggots/waxworms, and smallish jigging spoons (such as Forage Minnow and Swedish Pimple). 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 and Erie Canal.
Most state conservation agencies recommend at least four inches of solid ice before anglers should venture out to ice fish, and in Cleveland Metroparks it is the angler’s responsibility to check. One method is to use a spud bar near shore and check the ice thickness, and if it is greater than four inches then walk out a little further and check again. Ice is often thinnest right at the water’s edge and around inlets and outlets of the waterbody. If the spud bar goes through in one hard strike, it is a red flag that you need to get out of that area immediately. Other safety tips are to carry a set of ice spikes on a cord around your neck, fish with a friend, let someone know where you’ll be, and focus on areas near where other anglers are already fishing.
Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com
Lake St. Clair (Michigan)
Perch fishing continues to be excellent across Lake St. Clair. A good number of fish were taken near Cotton Road and the Lake St. Clair Metro Park. Most were using a gold spoon with a red bead tipped with a minnow. Those targeting panfish had some luck near shore and in the canals. Some have taken walleye in eight to 12 feet of water.
Lake Orion (Mich.)
Ice fishing has slowed some on Lake Orion. Recent rain made the surface of area lakes very slippery so be sure to wear ice cleats. Panfish and northern pike have been caught on Lake Orion and Lakeville Lakes. A few decent panfish have been caught on Stringy Lakes, too.
Luna Pier Area (Mich.)
Perch anglers were still taking some fish on Lake Erie in the Metro Park Marina and near the Banana Dike. Try minnows and spikes. Those fishing the Lake Erie Metro Park Marina caught bluegills. Most were between six and seven inches long.
Union Area (Mich.)
Lakes are slick and anglers need cleats. Panfish and pike were hitting on Long, Baldwin, and Birch lakes. There was no snow on the ground late last week, but ice was running between four and six inches. Check the ice as you go.
Grand Rapids Area (Mich.)
Good numbers of bluegills have been caught on Millhouse Bayou and Bruce’s Bayou. Try waxworms and spikes. The steelhead action should pick up on the Grand River any day now. Try tossing spawn, waxworms, or beads.
Saginaw Bay Area (Mich.)
Walleyes were hitting in Saginaw Bay in 17 to 20 feet of water near the second pressure crack. Anglers need to use extreme caution near both pressure cracks as they are still active and changing all the time. Both people and machines have fallen through the ice. Walleye were caught in 14 feet of water off Parish Road. Perch anglers were getting some fish in five feet of water off Anderson Road and six feet of water off Linwood. Good catches including a couple of limits came from the shipping channel near Spoils Island.
Caseville Area (Mich.)
There was up to 14 inches of ice on Lake Huron. Perch are hitting 3⁄4-mile out from Mud Creek and walleyes are hitting two to three miles out. Lake trout, walleye, burbot, and whitefish are hitting off the breakwall, and in Caseville Harbor anglers report catching perch, walleyes, and pike.
Baldwin Area (Mich.)
Ice fishing has been fair in Lake County. Decent bluegills and crappies have been caught on Big Bass and Big Star lakes but the numbers have been light. Pike are hitting on Idlewild Lake. Steelhead fishing has been decent on the Pere Marquette River but fishing pressure has been light. Those fishing with egg pattern flies, beads, spawn, and waxworms have reported the best results.
Ludington Area (Mich.)
Fishing has slowed around Ludington. Hamlin Lake is giving up light numbers of bluegills and crappies. Perch fishing has been very slow on Pere Marquette Lake. Pentwater Lake is giving up good numbers of perch, but anglers are having to sort through them to find the keepers.
Presque Isle Bay (Erie County, Pennsylvania) Poor Richard’s Bait & Tackle reported that ice anglers were catching perch off Liberty Park, and crappies in the early morning and late evening hours in Misery Bay, where northern pike up to 35 inches also were reported. Horseshoe Pond was yielding the occasional pike, as well as perch, bluegills, and a few steelhead. Marina Lake was yielding bluegills, crappies, and perch. A 27-inch walleye was caught off Cherry Street.
Erie tributaries (Pa.) – The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission put over 100 breeder steelhead in Sixteen Mile and the upper end of Four Mile creeks in early January, although Four Mile was frozen. Sixteen Mile had open water near the water treatment plant. Fresh steelhead were hitting at the mouth of Walnut Creek in early January just before the deep freeze.
Lake Pleasant (Erie County, Pa.) – This small natural lake was yielding some nice-sized rainbow and brown trout as well as crappies and perch in mid-January.
Eaton Reservoir (Erie County, Pa.) – Amid light fishing pressure, anglers were icing smallmouth bass, pike, and crappies, as conditions allowed.
French Creek (Erie, Crawford, Venango, Mercer counties, Pa.) – Freeze-thaw cycles and heavy rain caused flooding in low areas and ice jams on other sections through mid-January. When conditions allowed for open-water fishing, one angler reported a small walleye, a sucker, and hits by northern pike up to 24-plus inches on small shiners.
Allegheny River (Venango County, Pa.) – The middle river was high and muddy with ice sheets along the shoreline. Ice blockage was reported below Foxburg. These conditions, plus bitter cold, put the kibosh on fishing in recent weeks. In late December, anglers were catching walleyes on jigs and minnows and bladebaits in Pool 6, although many were sub-legal in size. Smallmouth bass up to 18 inches were reported.
Pymatuning Reservoir (Crawford County, Pa.) – A few ice anglers were fishing on the south end as of mid-January, and reporting crappies, perch, and bluegills. As conditions allowed, walleyes, including some limits, also were being iced, but the bite was slow. Some walleyes were larger than 20 inches.
Canadohta Lake (Crawford County, Pa.) – Anglers were icing crappies on this natural lake in mid-January.
Conneaut Lake (Crawford County, Pa.) – Bluegills and northern pike were being iced on the north end in recent weeks, with maggot-, mealworm-, or minnow-tipped jigs effective. Anglers also were targeting northern pike on shiner-rigged tip-ups.
Sugar Lake (Crawford County, Pa.) – Some ice anglers were catching northern pike in mid-January.
Sugar Creek (Crawford County, Pa.) – In open water, anglers were catching rainbow and brown trout on Prince Nymph (12) patterns, bright-orange salmon eggs, and pieces of crawler.