Fish free in Ohio May 4-5: Lake Erie fish report April 12-14

Stephen caught this silvery coho salmon at East 55th Street Marina. (Cleveland Metroparks)

Want to fish for free in Ohio, without a state permit? 

Fish for free anywhere in the state May 4-5, in the annual free fishing weekend.  

“Ohio has world-class fishing, and our free fishing weekend is a great opportunity to experience what the state has to offer,” said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. “I invite Ohioans to take some time to get outside with family and friends to enjoy our wonderful natural resources.” 

The Division of Wildlife’s six fish hatcheries stocked more than 44 million sport fish in public waters in 2018, including walleye, saugeye, steelhead, rainbow trout, brown trout, muskellunge, channel catfish, blue catfish and hybrid striped bass, which will provide opportunities for the estimated 1.3 million Ohio anglers. 

Visitors can receive a 20 percent discount on campsites during Ohio Free Fishing Days by using the promotion code 19ANGLER at ohiostateparks.reserveamerica.com.

The breakwall at East 55th Street Marina, the old Coast Guard Station and rocks at Edgewater Park and East 72nd Street Marina offer a chance at steelhead, yellow perch, and variety of other species. Courtesy docks have been installed at Edgewater and Gordon park boat launches last week, Cleveland Metroparks aquatic biologist Mike Durkalec writes in his weekly fish report. These harbor areas are a good place to find pre-spawn northern pike and largemouth bass, as well as panfish. Beginning this boating season, public boat launch ramps at Rocky River, Edgewater, Gordon Park, and Wildwood will charge a fee ($5 daily or season pass for $30 for Cuyahoga county residents and $35 for out of county residents) for trailered watercraft.  All proceeds benefit lakefront improvements projects.

The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are offering good fishing conditions, especially steelhead fishing with a mix of fresh (pre-spawn), spawning, and post spawn steelhead. Steelhead in spring will bite a variety of offerings, including dime to nickel size spawn bags, 1/32-1/64-ounce marabou jigs under floats (black, pink, and white are top colors), beads that mimic salmon eggs, and flies (egg patterns and baitfish streamers are top producers), Durkalec writes. Enjoy steelhead season now because it will taper off quickly later this month. 

Complementing the steelhead are very good numbers of lake-run smallmouth bass, especially in deeper, rocky holes throughout the main branch of the river. The white sucker run is also going strong on local streams, Durkalec writes. Suckers are perfect for kids and less experienced anglers.

Here’s the Ohio Department of Natural Resources fish report:

Walleye   
Where: Open water fishing is upon us and anglers are doing well trolling near 1.0 mph. Stick baits in dark colors with short leads have been producing best. Many anglers are using snap weights approximately 20 feet back, with another 20 to 30 feet to the lure. Action has been the best near the Camp Perry firing range and Kelleys Island in 25 to 35 feet of water. The jig bite will begin to pick up in the coming weeks, but anglers occasionally are doing well vertical jigging blade baits and spoons where fish are being marked.  
 
 

  • Anglers are advised to be cautious in the early spring. Extremely cold water temperatures put anglers at a high risk for hypothermia. Always wear your life jacket and leave a float plan with someone on shore of your intended plans.