CLEVELAND - Lake Erie veterans say this is shaping up to be one of the best years for Walleye in a while if –IF—current conditions hold up.
Good numbers of Walleye are being taken from Toledo to Ashtabula, right now. Big schools have moved east into the Central Basin, while good numbers of fish remain active in the Western Basin. Of course, techniques vary by geography, but the one consistent is that Walleye are being caught from one end of Ohio's North Coast to the other.
Let's take a closer look at the Big Lake, as well as fishing conditions inland:
Starting out west, the Port Clinton headboat fleet is reporting steady catches. The folks at Shore-Nuf charters at the Port Clinton Drawbridge tell us good numbers of fish are being taken, but the late bite is better, with outstanding catches being made in the late afternoon and evening. The headboats drift and cast for their fish. That means weight forward spinners or nightcrawler harnesses. The top colors are gold, firetiger, and purple.
Trollers in the Western Basin are taking limit numbers of Walleye on Stinger spoons or crawler harnesses. They are fishing the deep edges of the reefs. Purple and chartreuse have been producing.
Some bigger than normal, at least for the Western Basin, Yellow Perch are being taken by anglers targeting Walleye.
In the Central Basin, Craig Lewis at Erie Outfitters in Sheffield tells us the Walleye action is outstanding. The fish are almost everywhere in 30 to 50 feet of water from Vermilion to Avon Point. Trolling Stinger spoons or nightcrawler harnesses combined with Dipsy Divers has produced limit catches. Pink and Purple are the preferred colors.
Yellow Perch also continue to cooperate. Emerald Shiners fished in 25 to 40 feet of water will catch fish from Lorain to Avon Point.
Further east, the folks at Shine's in Cleveland say good catches of Walleye are being made from The Crib to Bratenahl. Nightcrawler harnesses or spoons in purple, chartreuse, and watermelon will produce. Fish are holding in 30 to 45 feet of water. Boats are marking schools everywhere in that region.
Yellow Perch fishing remains good in 34 feet of water right off of Cleveland and as far west as Avon. Emerald Shiners on Crappie rigs and spreaders are the way to go. Some Perch are still being caught from the breakwalls at 55th Street, Edgewater Park, and Gordon Park.
Good catches of Yellow Perch are being made off the Linda Mae, the headboat that fishes out of Wildwood Marina. They tell us fish are taking Emerald Shiners in 30 to 45 feet of water off of Euclid Beach and Euclid Hospital. But, what they're really excited about there is the Walleye. Limit catches of big fish have been made in the past few days. Captain Vitas tells us Jager Bomb and watermelon spoons are the key.
Heading out to Fairport Harbor, Don at Harbor Bait says the Walleye fishing is "superb." Limit numbers of large fish are being caught in 40 to 42 feet of water. Trolling nightcrawler harnesses, Stinger Spoons, and Reef Runners are producing. Purple and pink have been the best colors.
Perch are also hitting from Mentor east to Ashtabula. The standard Emerald Shiner on spreader rig will work.
One of our readers, Chris from Perry in Lake County wanted to let us know that the Walleye bite is strong :
"Got into the Walleye today in 58 feet of water. Small spoons only, right now, about the size of Shiners. Overcast conditions made this day awesome!"
Thanks for the tip about your area, Chris.
Ron Slater at Portage Lakes Bait and Tackle reports the Largemouth Bass fishing is fantastic. Ron says to fish plastics and cranks for Bass near shoreline structure, as well as drop offs. East Reservoir, Turkeyfoot, Long, Mud, and Rex Lakes all offer excellent Bass cover. Catches of a dozen fish or more have been reported by a number of anglers this week. Ron tells us the Crappie bite remains steady, even though it's late in the year for them to be schooled. You'll have to work for them, though. The schools are spread out and holding deeper. Once you find them, minnows under a float should work.
Jerry at Long Lake Bait and Tackle says the Bluegills and Redears remain on the nests in some lakes. His advice is to try Long Lake, North Reservoir, and Turkeyfoot. You will want to fish maggots, waxworms, or red worms for the Bluegills and other Sunfish. Jerry tells us good numbers of Yellow Perch are being caught fishing minnows and nightcrawlers in deeper water of Turkeyfoot Lake. The Channel Catfish bite is excellent. Good catches of big fish are being made in Long Lake, North Reservoir, and East Reservoir. Chicken livers, nightcrawlers, and Nitro crawlers are taking Cats.
And speaking of Catfish, congratulations go out to Tom Nixdorf of Portage Lakes. He won the Long Lake Bait Catfish tournament last Saturday night with Channel Cat that went 4.12 pounds.
Another reader who goes by the online name of Buckzye11 calls Nimisila his home lake. He sent us this report about the impoundment south of Akron:
"Bass were concentrated around weedbeds. Still no bigs for me, but I caught around 20 fiesty ones on swimbaits. The Reds (Redears) moved off the nests sooner then I was expectiing... at least in the areas I know."
Thanks for the great information Buckzye11. If any of you want to let us know how things are where you're fishing, feel free to email me at email@example.com. You can also find me on ohiogamefishing.com. My handle there is TopCat, and you can send me a personal message. You can also follow me on Twitter @gnoleff.
We are also hearing of good catches of Channel Cats from Nimisila. Cutbait and chicken livers will catch the Cats. There are also reports of a few Walleye being taken, mostly as an incidental catch by Bass anglers.
Alvin at Ron's Bait and Tackle says two words describe the Walleye fishing at West Branch: "On Fire!" He tells us jigs tipped with nightcrawlers, as well as nightcrawler harnesses fished near weed beds and drop-offs are taking good numbers of Walleye. Plenty of Bass have been taken fishing the weed beds and submerged structure on crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and soft plastics. Shad or crayfish imitations have worked best. White Bass are readily taking spinner and nightcrawler combos, though Crappie fishing has slowed somewhat. The Channel Catfish bite has really picked up. Good catches are being made on chicken livers and nightcrawlers.
Good numbers of Channel Catfish are being made. The folks at Les' Bait tell us the Cats are hitting everything from chicken liver to nightcrawlers to crankbaits. White Bass action has been solid. With fish hitting nightcrawler harnesses, small diving plugs, and spinner. The Walleye bite has been fair, with some bigger fish finally showing up. Berlin has an outstanding Walleye population. The fish are there, it's just a matter of getting them to hit. Those meeting with success, right now, are having to work hard for them. No patterns have emerged. Walleye have been shallow some days, deep others. Nightcrawler harnesses and jigs tipped with either nightcrawlers or minnows are the preferred baits. Largemouth bass have been sporadic.
Fair catches of Walleye are being made by trollers pulling Shad Raps and Flicker Shads at this Mahoning County Reservoir. The Mahoning River channel between the Lake Milton Causeway and the I-76 Bridge has been one of the productive areas. Fish deep there. Largemouth and Smallmouth are being taken on jigs, plastics, and crankbaits fished around structure, though the action has been slow at times. White Bass are readily taking jigs tipped with nightcrawlers and minnows. Some Channel Cats are being caught on cutbait and nightcrawlers.
Joe at Mosquito Lake Marina says the Walleye will cooperate, but you'll have to go deep for them. Flicker Shad, Shad Raps, and Hot-N-Tots fished on lead core line are taking fish. Trolling the creek channel on the south side of the lake has been productive. Drifting nightcrawler harnesses on the deep side of the weed beds near the cemetery has been good, too. Largemouth Bass are being taken in good numbers. Rattle Traps, spinners, and buzz baits fished around weed beds and structure will put fish in the boat. A number of Northern Pike have been taken in the past week by anglers targeting bass in the weeds. Big Channel Catfish are taking shrimp, cutbait, and chicken livers.
Charles Mill & Pleasant Hill
The Wiper action continues to hold steady at Charles Mill. Dusty at Mifflin Lakes Trading Post says good catches of the White Bass/Striped Bass hybrids are being made at this impoundment between Ashland and Mansfield. Chicken livers or Twister Tails fished under a bobber in the Bell Lake area of Charles Mill have been producing. Largemouth Bass are off the beds and actively feeding. Buzzbaits, soft plastics, or large shiners fished under a float will take fish. Fish near weeds or downed trees in the water to improve your chances of catching Bass. Channel Cats are biting, too. Dough/stink baits, nightcrawlers, and chicken livers, and fresh shad will catch fish. Saugeye are being caught in decent numbers in the lake and below the dam at Charles Mill. Drifting minnows or nightcrawler harnesses has taken fish above the dam. So has trolling Flicker Shad and other diving plugs. Below the dam, minnows fished below a float will produce. Early morning and dusk have been the best time.
Just to the south, Saugeye are being caught by trollers at Pleasant Hill. Nightcrawler harnesses and diving plugs fished near the beach are working. Good catches of Largemouth and Smallmouth bass are being reported on buzzbaits, jigs, and soft plastics.
The stump field on the north end has really been producing the past few days. That's what the folks at Duck and Drake report. They say nightcrawler harnesses trolled or drifted in eight to 12 feet of water have been taking good numbers of Walleye. Bass action has been steady at this Ashtabula County reservoir. Soft plastic and crankbaits are producing. Decent catches of Channel Catfish are being reported on nightcrawlers, chicken livers, and cutbait.
Panfish are being caught at this Medina County lake. Bob Nemeth at Chippewa Lake Bait and Tackle says worms or waxworms under a bobber will take them. Good catches of bass are being made. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits have produced lately. Catfish have been taking nightcrawlers and chicken livers. One note: This lake gets a lot of pleasure boating traffic, so your best bet is to fish it early.
Cleveland Metro Parks
Most of the Metro Parks lakes are producing decent Panfish catches. The Rocky River is also providing good catches of Smallmouth Bass. Fishing crawfish imitations near structure will take fish.
Some huge Channel Cats and Flathead Cats are being taken below the New Cumberland Dam in Columbiana County. Cut herring, chicken livers, and garlic shrimp are producing fish. Sauger are also hitting. Twister tails, jigging spoons, and live bait fished near the bottom are also taking fish.
Mogadore Bait and Tackle reports the Bluegills are on the nests in the shallows, while Redears are nesting just a little deeper. Maggots are the preferred bait. The Largemouth Bass action has really picked up. Plastics fished on drop offs and near structure are taking a lot of fish. The Channel Cat bite is good. A Channel that went almost 10 pounds was caught last week on cutbait.
Katie at Tappan Lake Marina says the lake just "lit up" in the past few days. Fishing has been good for Saugeye, Crappies, and Catfish. Good numbers of Saugeye are being taken by trollers and drifters on nightcrawler harnesses. Try the area around the sunken road bed west of the marina for Saugeye. Channel Catfish have been cooperating. Crawlers, cutbait, and chicken livers will take fish. Crappie are suspended over deep structure and being caught on minnows and jigs. A 17 inch long Crappie was caught Tuesday night. Bass fishing has been fair.
Smallmouth Bass and Northern Pike are being caught in the stretch near Bolivar. That's the word from NTR Canoe Livery. Some Catfish are being taken below the dam at Dover. There are also reports of Smallmouth and Northerns being caught in the Forty Corners area between Canal Fulton and Massillon. Crankbaits and jigs are catching both species. The Tuscarawas above Long Lake through the Firestone Metro Park is also producing good catches of Panfish and Yellow Perch.
The Cuyahoga above Cuyahoga Falls is providing good action for Bass and Northern Pike. Spinner baits, spoons, and crankbaits will catch fish.
"One fish, two fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish…"
Who isn't familiar with that classic from Dr. Seuss? When it comes to an important part of fisheries management in Ohio, the good Doctor wasn't far off.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources does count fish, and they do it by species. The state uses something called electrofishing to get an idea of the number and kinds of fish in a body of water.
Here's how it works. A specially equipped boat moves through the water sending out a low level electrical current. Fish are actually attracted to it and swim toward it. The current is only strong enough to stun the fish, forcing them to the surface where they are netted, placed in a holding tank, measured and their information recorded, then they are quickly returned to the water. The fish are no worse for the wear, and the state gets a pretty good idea of what's finning around lakes and streams, as well as how big they are.
"It's part of our monitoring program to get a consistent measure of how fish are doing in a particular lake," says Chris Aman, a fisheries biologist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
I was fortunate to tag along on a recent survey Chris did with two other members of a DOW crew, Cameron McCune and Mitch Issler. They were surveying Sunfish at Nimisila Reservoir in Green in southern Summit County. During the survey fish would be shocked to the surface and data would be gathered on the sunfish population in the lake.
"It's how we understand what's going on in our reservoirs," said Aman. "It gives us an understanding of the health of the fishery."
The DOW team followed a map of selected spots to survey around the lake. We would move from location to location, two men at the bow of the boat netting fish as they were shocked to surface. Some places held great numbers of fish, some didn't. While this survey targeted Sunfish, other species also rolled to the top, though they weren't netted.
However, every Sunfish that came up was brought into the boat. Each individual's size and species were recorded. There were Green Sunfish, Bluegills, Redears, Pumkinseeds, Warmmouths, and a variety of hybrids. They ranged in size from tiny, maybe two inches long, to behemoths, at least for Sunfish, measuring in the 8 to 10 inch range.
So how healthy is the Sunfish population in Nimisila? On the face of it, it looks pretty good, but we won't know for sure until the data collected is processed. All of the information will be put into a statewide data base and analyzed.
It's one of the tools the Division of Wildlife uses to determine how to manage a particular body of water. That information can be used for a variety of purposes including setting limits for a lake, or even guiding stocking programs.
I can tell you these crews work long, hard hours to ensure quality fishing in the State of Ohio, and the information they generate is invaluable.
If you want to see some of the pictures of the crew in action, check out the photo section of this article.
We Want To Hear From You
And, we want to remind you that you can submit photos of your fish catches. Check out the fantastic Walleye taken by Chris from Perry. The picture is in the photo section of this article. Go ahead, brag a little. We might post the photos or broadcast them on Good Morning Cleveland. Send those photos to Noleff@wews.com. We also welcome your fishing reports from you home waters, tips, suggestions, and even recipes that we can share. Or if there's a body of water you fish, and we're not covering it, let us know and we'll keep you informed about the latest conditions there. Plus, feel free to send us your fishing questions. We'll try to get them answered.
This report will be updated through the week to reflect the most recent fishing conditions.