The weather is good, and the fish are biting. Plus, it’s free fishing weekend in Ohio!
Where to try to catch a fish?
Lake Erie marina and harbor areas offer chances to catch walleye, steelhead trout, northern pike, panfish, and largemouth and smallmoth bass in spring, according to Cleveland Metroparks aquatic biologist Mike Durkalec.
Main and East branches of the Rocky River and Chagrin River up to South Chagrin Reservation had plenty of steelhead this week, though the weekend rains may send a bunch of dropback steelies back to Lake Erie, according to Durkalec’s weekly fish report.
Cleveland shoreline breakwalls are a “hot post-spawn night bite for walleye right now,” Durkalec says. Perfect 10s, Husky Jerks, and glow swimbaits are working. Productive spots include Edgewater, Wildwood, and Gordon Park boat ramp areas. A medium size silvery spoon or spinner is a good all-around choice.
Here’s what the fishing is like in the rest of Lake Erie, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Walleye: Fishing has been excellent from the islands and west to the mid-lake reef complex. The best reports came from Locust and Niagara reefs with many of the reports indicating limits in 2 hours or less. Anglers also reported success jigging near the mouth of the Vermilion River and near Ruggles Reef, and trolling near shore from Cleveland and farther east.
Anglers have been jigging 5/8 to 1-ounce hair jigs in 8 to 20 feet of water, with purple and black reported as the best colors. In addition, anglers jigging blade baits have also been successful. Anglers trolling have been doing well using deep diving crankbaits trolled 55 to 80 feet back at 1.2 to 1.5 mph in 15 to 30 feet of water.
Smallmouth Bass: Largemouth and smallmouth bass will be moving up shallower to spawn in the coming weeks. Anglers are beginning to target largemouth in some of the harbors and tributaries, while reports of smallmouth bass have been trickling in from the lake. Reports of incidental catches have been reported near the Islands, the mid-lake reef complex, and near Vermilion.
Texas-rigged soft plastics and wacky worms usually produce well for largemouth bass. For anglers targeting smallmouths, tubes often work well, though plenty of fish are being taken on hair jigs and blade baits, as well as trolling crankbaits.
Crappie: Look for fish starting to move into harbors and river mouths in the coming weeks as fish begin staging to spawn. Anglers have reported intermittent success, but the warmer weather should start to bring fish into shore.
A 1/16 or 1/32-ounce jig and minnow fished under a slip bobber is the most common technique this time of year. Casting small crankbaits or jigs and plastics also work well.