Editor’s note: This fishing report was compiled around the Christmas holiday when much of Ohio experienced unseasonably warm temperatures, allowing for a short window of open-water fishing, primarily on the spillways of Ohio’s larger reservoirs. Prior to this period, most inland lakes and the western basin of Lake Erie was making ice, but it has mostly been thin sheets, unstable to hold ice anglers just yet.
Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – Anglers are hitting the spillway after recent storms to catch saugeyes and crappies. Try crankbaits in various sizes for the best bite. Some muskies are also being caught on the main lake. Target areas with woody cover.
Hoover Reservoir (Franklin, Delaware counties) – Anglers fishing topwater baits are catching some largemouth bass, according to reports. Water is high due to recent sustained rains, but some lucky fishermen have had success fishing topwater frogs and other baits. For saugeyes, anglers are trolling Flicker Shads in a variety of colors to pull in fish up to 20 inches.
Indian Lake (Logan County) – Saugeye anglers are finding fish near Chippewa by using Flicker Shad in a variety of patterns. Most of the saugeyes have been between 15 and 20 inches. Concentrate efforts in shallower water, between five and 10 feet deep, anglers report.
Knox Lake (Knox County) – Largemouth bass are the most popular game fish in this lake. Fishing with tubes, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits around shoreline cover can be very productive this time of year. Largemouth bass must be 18 inches or longer to keep. Crappies are still being caught in nine to 10 feet of water next to woody cover. Channel catfish are being caught lake wide using cut shad and shrimp.
Findlay Reservoir No. 2 (Hancock County) – Anglers fishing for perch and walleyes haven’t done much good recently, but a few surprise channel catfish are showing up in the creel. Catfish are biting on the same baits that one would use to catch walleyes and perch – jig tipped with a minnow or straight minnow on a hook under a bobber.
Delta Reservoir No. 2 (Fulton County) – This 50-acre reservoir is 1½ miles west of State Route 109 on County Road H and features a lot of structure to attract fish. Boat anglers have been catching limits of rainbow trout using small minnows on slip bobbers. Try fishing 15 feet down in 30 feet of water. Flavor infused baits and small spinners should also produce trout. The reservoir has a boat ramp, but boaters are restricted to using electric motors only.
Wayne Carr Lake (Paulding County) – This 15-acre lake on County Road 11, just ½ mile south of County Road 424, should be producing nice bluegills the next two months. The best fishing is usually along the shoreline, using waxworms fished under a slip bobber. There is a public use boat ramp available, but boats are restricted to 10-horsepower motors. In addition, there is a 10-fish daily limit on bluegills and an 18-inch minimum size limit for bass on the lake.
Wingfoot Lake (Portage County) – Anglers fishing this reservoir are having success catching panfish. Bluegills are being caught in areas of the lake containing blowdowns. Fish minnows under a bobber for the best bite. Some crappies and yellow perch are also being caught in about 10 feet of water, fishing halfway down the water column. Waxworms have been a productive bait as well. Some channel cats are also being caught.
Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) – Anglers fishing on the north side of the causeway are catching panfish in bunches. Try using a floating jig tipped with a minnow. Some walleyes are also being caught by fishermen trolling blade baits such as Vib-Es. Fish have ranged anywhere from 15 to 20 inches. Some incidental channel catfish are also being caught by walleye anglers. Other anglers are trolling worm harnesses outside of weed beds for walleyes. Some catfish anglers have caught shovelheads in the north side of the lake.
Pymatuning Reservoir (Ashtabula County) – Anglers are catching some walleyes up to 23 inches by trolling crankbaits and stickbaits. Successful fishermen are trolling in 14 to 20 feet of water. Crappies and yellow perch are also being caught in nine to 10 feet of water by anglers employing jig and minnow combinations or waxworms under a bobber.
Tappan Lake (Harrison County) – Anglers targeting the old road bed that traverses the lake are catching some saugeyes. For the best bite, try drifting with nightcrawler harnesses. Crappies, too, can be caught here by anglers who target structure in deeper water. Try the usual jig and minnow combination or waxworms for the panfish bite.
Grand Lake St. Marys (Mercer, Auglaize counties) – Successful anglers are catching bluegills and crappies with some regularity. The popular setup has been the tried and true jig and minnow or just a minnow on a hook. Also try waxworms under a bobber. Most of the crappies have been running larger, in the 9.5- to 11-inch range. Bluegills are similarly large for this lake. The key, anglers say, is to fish the proper depth in this lake. Try suspending the lure just off the bottom in 10 or so feet of water for the best bite.
Paint Creek Lake (Highland, Ross counties) – Crappies are hitting along banks and around downed trees. Anglers should fish in four to 11 feet of water with minnows or pumpkinseed jigs. Jig for largemouth bass in about four to 10 feet of water. Bluegills are hitting waxworms in the coves around wood. Plenty of channel cats and shovelheads are being caught in the spillway on nightcrawlers and cut shad.
East Fork Lake (Clermont County) – Fishermen looking for bass are finding a few largemouths in this southwest Ohio lake. Successful anglers are using Texas-rigged creature baits and tubes in a variety of patterns. Keep switching up colors until you find a productive pattern.
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Anglers are catching saugeyes and crappies, primarily in the morning hours, on jig and minnow combinations or nightcrawlers. Fish early mornings or evenings.
Piedmont Lake (Belmont County) – Search out weed edges for the best smallmouth and largemouth bite here, anglers recommend. Anglers are using small crankbaits and topwater baits to entice the bass bite.
Rush Creek Lake (Fairfield, Perry counties) – Anglers are catching a variety of bluegills and crappies on nightcrawlers and minnows. Fish are running small, but there is enough action to keep you busy for an afternoon.
Lake Vesuvius (Lawrence County) – Anglers should have success catching good numbers of catfish throughout the lake fishing with cut baits or livers fished off the bottom. If fishing from shore, try a tight line using chicken livers or nightcrawlers. You should still be able to catch trout using power baits fished off the boardwalk pier. Largemouth bass may still be caught in good numbers using a variety of artificial lures.
Lake Hope (Vinton County) – Anglers are fishing for largemouth bass on this lake near McArthur in Vinton County. Try topwater baits for the best bite. Look for areas with lily pads and the bass should be there.
Lake Erie Region
• The 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 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.
Recent winter weather has limited fishing opportunities on Lake Erie, according to the DNR Division of Wildlife. Bays, harbors, nearshore areas, and some of the western basin are partially ice covered.
In winter, highlight species targeted by anglers in Cleveland Metroparks include steelhead trout, stocked trout, and walleyes. The Rocky River and other area streams are currently opening up nicely after being iced up most of this week, although the marina area on the Rocky River is still jammed with ice. Trout were recently stocked at Wallace, Shadow, Ledge, Judge’s, and Ranger lakes and some walleyes and steelhead can still be found along the Cleveland lakefront shoreline.
Anglers were catching steelhead, although it is suspected that the ice in the lower river is impeding greater numbers of fresh fish from moving in. Hopefully that ice clears out in the coming days. Bait often rules in winter, with dime-size spawn sacs, live/salted minnows, and small jigs tipped with maggots/waxworms all being among the top producers. Fish have been reported in all the stocked streams recently, as well as the Cuyahoga River and Euclid Creek.
Decent numbers of steelhead are still being reported along the Lake Erie shoreline, especially at E. 55th and Edgewater parks. The breakwalls and shoreline rocks are covered in treacherous ice, 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). Night walleye anglers can still find some fish at Edgewater and E. 72nd/Gordon parks from the shore casting crankbaits, with larger Husky Jerks and Perfect 10 models being top producers. Make sure to bring a long-handled net as well as ice cleats for safety.
A total of 3,000 pounds of trout were stocked in Cleveland Metroparks lakes last month and ice fishers were just venturing cautiously onto smaller waters this week. Trout bite well on PowerBait, canned corn, small spinners, and jigs tipped with a few maggots/waxworms, and nightcrawlers or shrimp fished right on the bottom. 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. The second (and final) round of winter trout will go into the lakes sometime in late January.
Since ice fishing is just beginning, Cleveland Metroparks offers some advice. 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 that. 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. Other safety tips are to always 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
Ohio River Region
Scioto County – Anglers in the past have had success fishing the Ohio River at the confluence of the Scioto River. Channel catfish are always a popular species to catch this time of year. Try using chicken livers or nightcrawlers fished tight-line off the bottom. Target flathead catfish by using live skipjacks or shad. Some hybrid striped bass may also be caught. Try using white jigs with twisters tipped with a minnow.
Western River (Hamilton, Clermont, Brown, Adams counties) – Flatheads can be caught on chicken livers fished with no weight at drop-offs of 15 to 20 feet.
Serpentine Wall, Downtown Cincinnati (Hamilton County) – Anglers are having success catching blue cats in the morning hours. Try using chicken breast.
Greenup Dam – Hybrid striped bass and white bass should be moving this time of year. For hybrid striped bass, try fishing cut baits and live baits off the bottom. For white bass, try using topwater lures as well as skipjack, chubs, shiners, and cut bait. Early mornings will probably produce the most catches.
Meldahl Dam (Clermont County) – Channel catfish and flathead catfish are being caught below the dam tailwaters using shad and skipjack fished tight on the bottom. The best time to fish for channel catfish and flathead catfish is during the nighttime.