CLEVELAND - The weather system that brought severe storms to Ohio on Wednesday is having an effect on fishing, especially on Lake Erie. Most boats finally made it out on the Big Lake Friday, after being docked for two days because of rough conditions..
Let's take a closer look at fishing conditions around the region:
Before the storm, the Port Clinton headboat fleet was reporting steady catches. Now, the water is stirred up, and muddy where streams enter the lake. Shore-Nuf charters at the Port Clinton Drawbridge was able to get boats out on the water yesterday, and they were catching fish by the evening. Their afternoon trips took 45 Walley. Weight forward spinners or nightcrawler harnesses were producing. The top colors were gold, firetiger, and purple.
The storm system and the resulting high winds has made it tough on Western Basin trollers, too. Since the western third of the lake is so shallow, the winds have a bigger impact, and the effects last longer. Before the blow, Western Basin trollers had been taking limit numbers of Walleye on Stinger spoons or crawler harnesses.
In the Central Basin, Craig Lewis at Erie Outfitters in Sheffield says the lake has calmed down nicely and Walleye are being taken in 30 to 50 feet of water from Vermilion to Avon Point. Nightcrawler harnesses are recommended. Pink and Purple are the preferred colors.
Yellow Perch were also hitting in 25 to 40 feet of water from Lorain to Avon Point, but sporadically. Catches should improve soon.
Further east, the folks at Shine's raise more questions about lake conditions. If the wind cooperates boats could be trolling in the waters off of Cleveland by Friday afternoon. Before the weather system moved through good catches of Walleye were being made from The Crib to Bratenahl. Nightcrawler harnesses or spoons in purple, chartreuse, and watermelon were working
Good catches of Yellow Perch were made Friday off the Linda Mae, the headboat that fishes out of Wildwood Marina. The boat made one trip Friday and caught 170 Perch. They tell us fish were taking Emerald Shiners in 30 to 45 feet of water off of Villa Angela. Walleyes were also being caught by Captain Vitas earlier in the week.
Heading out to Fairport Harbor, Don at Harbor Bait expects conditions tobe almost perfect on Saturday. The problem may be that the Walleye are scattered. Before the bad weather, the Walleye fishing was excellent with limit numbers of large fish being caught in 40 to 42 feet of water. Trolling nightcrawler harnesses, Stinger Spoons, and Reef Runners were producing. Purple and pink had been the best colors.
The storm stirred up the waters at this popular chain of lakes south of Akron. However, that should help the Catfish bite. Good numbers of Channel Cats have been taken since the storms rolled through, especially on Long Lake, Turkeyfoot Lake, and East Reservoir. Chicken livers, cutbait, and nightcrawlers have been working.
Ron Slater at Portage Lakes Bait and Tackle reports the Largemouth Bass are still hitting. 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 in the past week.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org . 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, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and soft plastics fished near weedbeds. Shad or crayfish imitations have worked best. The Channel Catfish bite has really picked up. Good catches are being made on chicken livers and nightcrawlers.
Joe at Mosquito Lake Marina says the water is up by about eight inches, but the lake is fisable. He tells us good catches of bass are being made, especially later in the day and
at dusk. Buzz baits and soft plastics fishing in the weeds and around structure will take fish. The Walleye bite has slowed, but some fish are taking harnesses or diving plugs trolled deep. Big Crappies have been hitting Twister Tails and minnows fished deep. Big Bluegills have moved into the shallows and are on the nests. Some Catfish are being taken on chicken livers, cutbait, and live bluegills.
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 spinners. The Walleye bite has been fair, with some bigger fish finally showing up. But, no patterns have emerged, and anglers have had to work for their fish. Bass fishing has been sporadic.
Fair catches of Walleye are still 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.
The stump field on the north end was producing before the storm. The folks at Duck and Drake report nightcrawler harnesses trolled or drifted in eight to 12 feet of water had been taking good numbers of Walleye. Walleye were caught Thursday, despite muddy conditions, by trollers dragging diving plugs in 20 feet of water on the south end. We are told they were following the contour of the creek channel. The Channel Catfish bite has picked up. Fish are taking chicken livers, and cutbait.
Mogadore Bait and Tackle reports the Bluegills remain on the nests, despite the recent weather. Maggots are the preferred bait. The Largemouth Bass action continues to be good. 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.
The storms have not slowed things at this impoundment near Ravenna. Alvin at Ron's Bait and Tackle says the Walleye are still cooperating. They are hitting jigs tipped with nightcrawlers, as well as nightcrawler harnesses fished near weed beds and drop-offs. Plenty of Bass are being taken on
Charles Mill & Pleasant Hill
Muddy conditions haven't dampened the Wiper action 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, though high water may make fishing below the dam at Charles Mill difficult for a day or two. Drifting minnows or nightcrawler harnesses has taken fish above the dam. So has trolling Flicker Shad and other diving plugs.
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.
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.
Good numbers of Channel Cats and Flathead Cats are being taken below the New Cumberland Dam in Columbiana County. Cut herring, chicken livers, and garlic shrimp are the preferred baits. Sauger were hitting Twister tails, jigging spoons, and live bait fished near the bottom. River conditions are mixed after the recent heavy rains.
Katie at Tappan Lake Marina says the lake just "lit up" in the past week. Fishing has been good for Saugeye, Crappies, and Catfish, though rain
has kept some boats off the lake. 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 taking nightrawlers, cutbait, and chicken livers. 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.
Lookout for rising water levels as the rain from the storm moves downstream. That could affect fishing. Smallmouth Bass and Northern Pike were being caught in the stretch near Bolivar. 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 was producing good catches of Panfish and Yellow Perch, though water conditions have been high and fast.
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.