Ohio Outdoor News Fishing Report — March 3, 2017

Central Region

Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, and Perry counties) – Expect the early spring crappie bite to turn on soon, particularly in the Thornport area. Fish for them six inches deep with 1⁄64- to 1⁄80-ounce jigs suspended under a bobber. Anglers might also try the north shore ramp, Fairfield Beach, or Seller’s Point for saugeyes. Some saugeyes have been caught recently in these areas.

Alum Creek Reservoir (Delaware County) –  Anglers fishing below the spillway here have had sporadic luck catching saugeyes. One angler reported catching a limit after dark with one specimen up to 20 inches. Try jig and minnow combos or jerkbaits in a variety of patterns.

Deer Creek Lake (Madison, Fayette, Pickaway counties) – A lot of anglers have fished the spillway over the past two weeks for crappies, gills, and saugeyes. Crappie and bluegill catches have been reported, but most fish are small. An occasional saugeye is being picked up in the 15-16-inch size range. Try jigs in orange, chartreuse, or white for the best bite. Tip the rig with a minnow or waxworm for better results. The largest saugeye being reported was a 21-incher.

O’Shaughnessy Reservoir (Delaware, Franklin counties) – Anglers fishing below the dam here are catching smallmouth bass and saugeyes. Water levels have been good with a nice green stain to the water. Try jigs and twister tails in pink, chartreuse, or white for the best bite. Tip the rig with a minnow for better results.

Northwest Region

Grand Lake St. Marys (Auglaize, Mercer counties) – Anglers are reporting catching some crappies and bluegills on this western Ohio lake. Try the tried and true jig and minnow combination or just a simple waxworm under a bobber for best results. Some bass are also being caught by those anglers fishing for panfish.

Maumee River (Lucas County) – As of Feb. 17, wading to Bluegrass Island was possible, according to a report from Maumee Bait and Tackle. Water clarity was about six inches. The annual walleye run typically picks up around the end of March and continues into April. Stay tuned to Ohio Outdoor News for walleye run updates. There are currently some anglers on the water searching for the early bite, the tackle shop reports, but no reports of anyone catching anything yet.

Maumee Bait and Tackle, www.maumeetackle.net

Indian Lake (Logan County) – Fishing has been spotty at Indian like it has at most places around the state. Saugeye anglers were producing fish on jerkbaits around the Moundwood area in mid-February but cold weather moved back in, slowing angler success.

Northeast Region

Conneaut Creek (Ashtabula County) – Conneaut Creek, one of the premier steelhead destinations in Ohio, is primed for the steelhead bite right now. Slushy conditions will be encountered, particularly in the morning hours, due to cold weather conditions. Try spawn sacs for the best steelhead bite.

Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) – A few walleyes are being caught in this Trumbull County lake known for its decent fishing prospects. Other anglers are catching crappies and bluegills on waxworms or red worms. Also, jig and minnow combos can’t be beat in the spring. Try jigging the bait slowly in cold-water conditions.

LaDue Reservoir, Punderson Lake (Geauga County) – Anglers were within a day or two of getting on the ice in mid-February before a drastic warm up and high winds foiled their plans. At LaDue, there had been some productive open-water angling for bluegills and crappies near the State Route 44 bridge and some open-water spots under other bridges. Anglers were successful using minnows suspended under bobbers.

Southwest Region

Kiser Lake (Champaign County) – This lake, 12 miles west of Urbana, is a good spot to catch panfish in the winter and maybe even some catfish. Check back on this fishing report for updated ice conditions in the coming weeks.

East Fork Lake (Clermont County) – Jigs tipped with minnows fished deep in the lake have produced decent crappie numbers for some anglers. Slabs are being caught in 18-25-foot depths.

Paint Creek Lake (Highland County) – The campground area of Paint Creek Lake is giving up good numbers of crappies, according to angler reports. Successful anglers are suspending minnows by a bobber in five to eight feet of water. Black and chartreuse jigs tipped with a minnow are also working well. The absolute best bite, however, is coming on chartreuse jigs with red flakes tipped with a minnow.

C.J. Brown Reservoir (Clark County) – Anglers are taking advantage of winter dock fishing on this Clark County lake and being rewarded in some cases with some decent crappies and yellow perch. Crappies have ranged up to 11 inches, according to reports, and the perch have been 10 inches or less. Some bluegills have also been tossed into the mix by anglers fishing tiny jigs with tails or tipped with live bait.

Rocky Fork Lake (Highland County) – A few lucky anglers have zeroed in on the crappie bite here in recent weeks. Anglers fishing around the island in 11 to 13 feet of water are seeing good results for crappies. Fish the humps in the lake for the best crappie bite. Fish are ranging a large 10 to 13 inches.

Southeast Region

Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Saugeyes up to 3 pounds were being caught in mid-February on blade baits such as Vib-Es.

Seneca Lake (Guernsey, Noble counties) – The saugeye bite on Seneca Lake is currently the best thing going in the area. Anglers are catching them around the dam area and on the deep, outside sections of the creek channel. Fishing close to large schools of shad seems to be crucial. Most saugeyes will be holding tight to the bottom, so try vertical jig blade baits, spoons, or a jig and minnow combination for best results.

Tycoon Lake (Gallia County) – Bass anglers who normally would be holed up until spring are testing the Tycoon Lake waters a bit earlier with the warmer weather. There is good potential for trophy bass but there have not yet been any reports of big ones being taken.

Dillon Lake (Muskingum County) – Anglers fishing a backwater pond off Dillon have had good luck catching pan-sized crappies. Fish have ranged from 10 to 13 inches. Some saugeyes are being caught at the spillway, too. Anglers have also had some luck fishing the dock poles off the main marina for saugeyes and crappies.

Wills Creek Lake (Muskingum, Coshocton counties) – Anglers fishing below the spillway here are catching some saugeyes, some up to 20 inches. This 900-acre lake will give up crappies, bluegills, and saugeyes early in the spring. When the weather warms, try for them with jigs and waxworms or simply waxworms under a bobber. The crappie fishing here can be excellent one day and poor the next. Fish for them with three- to four-inch grubs. Saugeyes will bite on Rapala Husky Jerks and Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogues.

Lake Erie Region

• 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.

• Black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass): the daily bag limit is five fish per angler with a 14-inch minimum size limit.

Walleye 

Where: There continue to be some walleyes caught when conditions allow. Most reports of walleyes have come from anglers fishing off Cedar Point and Huron.

How: Most fish were caught by trolling with crankbaits, but some have also been caught by vertically jigging.

As of Feb. 17, the Lake Erie water temperature is 35 off Toledo and 34 off Cleveland, according to the nearshore marine forecast.

In winter, highlight species targeted by anglers in Cleveland Metroparks include steelhead trout, stocked trout, and panfish. The rivers are in nice shape and steelhead opportunities into the weekend are looking good based on the forecast.

The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are offering good fishing for fresh steelhead and weekend prospects continue to look good based on the forecast. A mix of fresh chrome and older more colorful steelhead are well distributed through both watersheds at this time. When the water is on the stained side, a dime to nickel size brightly colored spawn sac (hot pink or chartreuse are both good) drifted under a float/bobber is hard to beat. As the water clears other offerings, including live/salted minnows, jigs tipped with maggots or waxworms, salmon-egg-mimicking beads, and various flies (eggs, nymphs, and streamers) will take a good share of the fish. Medium size silvery spoons, spinners, and small to medium crankbaits can be worth a try, as well, and require less specialized tackle for newer steelhead anglers. The Cuyahoga River and Euclid Creek have also been producing steelhead lately.

Some steelhead can also be found along the Lake Erie shoreline throughout winter at E. 55th and Edgewater parks. The breakwalls and shoreline rocks are slippery, though, so it is a wise plan to wear boot cleats/chains if you head out there. Popular methods for targeting Lake Erie shoreline steelies include suspending a jig tipped with minnow or nightcrawler two to five feet below a bobber, as well as casting a spoon (i.e., Little Cleo or KO Wobbler) or spinner (i.e., Vibrax or RoosterTail). Make sure to bring a long-handled net.

A total of 3,000 pounds of trout were stocked over the past few weeks at Wallace (1,400 lbs), Shadow (750 lbs), Ledge (650 lbs), Judge’s (100 lbs), and Ranger (100 lbs) lakes. This concludes Cleveland Metroparks’ winter trout stocking, which have totaled 6,000 pounds among these five locations since December. Cleveland Metropark lakes are currently ice free. Winter trout hit well on PowerBait fished near the bottom, jigs tipped with a few maggots/waxworms suspended below a bobber, minnows, and smaller spoons and spinners. Depending on the day, trout might be right near the bottom or cruising around suspended at varying depths, and the most successful anglers change their presentation until they find what works. 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 and Erie Canal. Spring stocking of trout in the East Branch Rocky River will likely begin in mid to late March.

Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com

Ohio River Region

Lawrence and Scioto counties – At Greenup dam, saugers are being caught on jigs and white grubs or by dropping minnows straight down off the fishing access walls. Hybrid striped bass have been hitting on minnows, shad, and cut baits. Channel catfish are being caught in good numbers near the Portsmouth boat ramp using cut bait and live shad. Crappies eight to 10 inches in size can be caught in the embayment near the Shawnee State marina. Use minnows and fish around brush piles and docks in four to six feet of water. Largemouth and spotted bass were caught in good numbers over the weekend using black/silver and blue/silver crankbaits.

Belmont and Monroe counties – Anglers have been catching stripers and walleyes at the Pike Island dam. Anglers have been catching skipjack and then using them for bait to entice the striper bite. Drop the skipjack right along the wall of the dam for best results.

Hamilton County – A few hardy anglers have been fishing the Meldahl dam area and picking up a few saugers. The bite is reportedly a tough one, however.

At Greenup Dam, anglers are catching saugers, white bass, and catfish fishing along the Kentucky side. The best bite is coming on minnnows.

In the Meldahl pool, anglers are reporting catching hybrid stripers up to 20-plus inches. Some saugers are also being caught on floating jigs tipped with a minnow.

beyond ohio

Lake St. Clair (Michigan)

Perch fishing has been pretty good on Lake St. Clair although ice conditions are questionable. Be sure to use a spud and check the ice as you go. Perch were hitting off 11 Mile Road in front of the library. More rain and warm temperatures were in the forecast.

Lakeside Fishing Shops, (586) 777-7003

Irish Hills Area (Mich.)

Ice fishing has stalled in Jackson County where ice conditions are poor at best. The 2017 Midwest Open Ice Fishing Tournament has been canceled. There was some fair ice on some of the smaller lakes and bays and anglers are catching good numbers of panfish. Coyote hunting has been good, Knutson’s is holding a coyote contest through March 1.

Knutson’s Sporting Goods, (800) 292-0857 or (517) 592-2786

Lake Orion (Mich.)

Ice conditions have been poor in Oakland County. With more warm temperatures and rain in the immediate forecast, ice fishing was not recommended. Coyote hunting has been slow.

Lakes Village Stop/Mobile Gas Station, (248) 693-4565

Luna Pier Area (Mich.)

Walleye fishing remains very good in the open waters in the Western Basin of Lake Erie with lots of big fish being caught. Those trolling crankbaits in 15 to 20 feet of water report good action. Light numbers of jumbo perch and bluegills were caught off the docks at the Metro Park Marina. The bait of choice was minnows or waxworms, depending on the day.

Luna Pier Harbour Club, (734) 848-8777

Lake Erie tributaries (Pennsylvania) – Steelhead were in the streams as of Feb. 1 but scattered, hard to catch, and running small. Sixteen Mile Creek appeared to offer the best bite on Erie’s east side. Anglers were catching steelhead from the mouth to the sewage treatment plant off Mill Road. Fly-anglers were doing well on nymphs and egg patterns.

Presque Isle Bay (Erie County, Pa.) – Anglers fishing along the Bayfront in late January were catching panfish and steelhead.

Pymatuning Reservoir (Crawford County, Pa.) – A few boaters were out in the milder weather of late January and fishing around the causeway. Several dozen anglers fishing the docks at the Jamestown Marina were catching crappies, bluegills, and a few yellow perch.

Lake Arthur (Butler County, Pa.) – Nice catches of crappies were reported in early February, with good bites over weedbeds west of the Route 528 access. Slow-trolling buck-tail jigs in white or brown was effective.

Kahle Lake, Piney Dam (Clarion County, Pa.) – Anglers are reminded that these fisheries are in a drawn-down state.

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