For many Ohioans, the fall season provides an abundance of new outdoor activities. You have the amazing fall foliage and the start of the new hunting season as well as small community fall festivals,as well as the football season, which provide a variety of options available in Ohio during the fall.
One activity not to be missed is the tremendous fall fishing opportunities that are available across the state. The fish are feeding enthusiastically from Lake Erie to the Ohio River as they begin storing up fat reserves in preparation for winter, and this can make for some very successful fishing trips, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife.
Thousands of rainbow trout, raised in Ohio’s state fish hatcheries, are released into local fishing holes and neighborhood lakes throughout Ohio in the fall. This annual stocking provides excellent opportunities for anglers to continue fishing into the cooler months- and it’s fun for the whole family.
Steelhead start cruising the Lake Erie shoreline shortly after Labor Day, with rainfall and cooler temperatures triggering an increase in the upstream migrations. The Division of Wildlife annually stocks five Lake Erie tributary streams (Vermilion, Rocky, Chagrin and Grand rivers, and Conneaut Creek) with steelhead.
These fish eventually migrate into Lake Erie and spend the summer in the cooler part of the lake before returning to streams during the fall through the spring. Stream-caught steelhead trout average 25 inches in length, weigh five to six pounds, and have usually spent two to three summers out in the lake. There are a good number of trophy fish available that are over 30 inches long and weigh more than 10 pounds.
BASS, CRAPPIE, AND SUNFISH
Fishing inland reservoirs for bass, crappie, or sunfish also can be very productive. Late-season crappie are likely to be found near good cover such as fallen trees, artificial structure, or other stick-ups near sloping points, outside bends of creek channels, or steep shorelines adjacent to creek channels. If you move offshore just a bit fall crappie will hold in schools near drop off areas. A less traditional area that also is worth a try is the spillway where moving water may attract and concentrate crappie. Spillways often can be easy to fish from shore and they can be surprisingly productive.
Bass feed heavily this time of year on the bait fish that are abundant in the reservoirs. This can lead to some frenzied fishing action! Anglers should target shallow bays and structure that are adjacent to deeper waters. But the easiest way to find feeding bass is to look for schools of bait fish breaking the surface when a bass is feeding on them. Cast a top-water plug or a twister tail into the commotion and it should lead to success.
Sunfish will be in deeper water this time of year , but they will still be abundant and the bite will be fantastic! Like other species sunfish are on the constant feed during the fall fattening up for the winter. If you fish the the deeper waters for these fish you will be pleasantly please with your catch.
The most famous and remarkable fall perch fishery is still lake Erie and large catches can still be had. Also there are some inland reservoirs around the state that hold good populations of perch. Most of these reservoirs are located in northwest Ohio and the best ones for yellow perch include: Findlay Reservoir No. 1 (Hancock County), Metzger and Ferguson reservoirs (Allen County), Wauseon Reservoir No. 2 (Fulton County), Shelby Reservoir No. 3 (Richland County), Upper Sandusky Reservoir No. 2 (Wyandot County), and Willard Reservoir (Huron County).
WALLEYE AND SAUGEYE
Movement is the key for catching trophy walleye or saugeye that can be found in waterways across Ohio. Some late fall November walleye anglers find that fishing for walleye when they’re on the move is highly effective. Best baits for walleye are floating jigs tipped with white, yellow or fluorescent colored plastic tails. Saugeye become highly active this time of year as well. With lakes being drawn down for flood control, saugeye school up near areas where the flow is funneled down, such as bridge abutments. Vertical jigging or casting with twister tails or crankbaits works well to catch these female walleye/male-sauger hybrids.
Check out these quick tips for excellent autumn fishing or visit wildohio.com and click on “Fishing” for more details about choosing the right bait, places to fish, fish identification, and even how to fillet and cook the fish you take home. Recipes are available at wildohiocookbook.com
Anglers age 16 and older are required to have a valid fishing license to take fish, frogs or turtles from Ohio waters. Fishing licenses are available at bait and tackle stores, outdoor outfitters, major department stores, and at wildohio.com. An Ohio fishing license is one of the best recreational bargains available, costing state residents only $19 a year. Fishing licenses do not expire until February 28, 2009, anglers can enjoy the “hard water” season as well!
Ohio residents born on or before December 31, 1937 can obtain a free fishing license at any license vendor. Residents age 66 and older born on or after January 1, 1938 are eligible to obtain a reduced-cost senior fishing license for $10. A one-day fishing license is also available for $11, an amount that can be applied toward the cost of an annual license.