JACK WOLLITZ Limited horsepower lakes can produce
Rarely pleased with their weather, northeastern Ohioans are notorious for blaming their woes on the temperature and what is falling from the sky.
So now it is hot.
But two weeks ago the weather was too cold, too rainy and generally unstable. It was easy to excuse poor fishing as the result of unfavorable conditions.
Blame the heat: Now we can blame any lack of success on the heat. The fish are quickly settling into their summer behavior. To up the odds, anglers can concentrate their efforts on water that is more apt to deliver results.
Lake Erie is one such place.
Smallmouth bass fishing is excellent in the summer on Erie waters as close as Ashtabula, Geneva and Conneaut. Further east, fishermen can venture out of Presque Isle launch ramps and fish near Erie, Pa.
To locate summer smallies on Lake Erie, scout for depth changes in the 20-to 25-foot range. Any kind of rock pile or ledge is likely to hold a gang of smallmouths, and many of them will top the four-pound mark.
While some days require special presentations, the tried-and-true method to hook up with Erie bronzebacks is pretty simple. Rig a tube bait on a one-eighth- to one-quarter-ounce jig head, tie it onto 8-pound-test line and drag the offering over the bottom.
Smallies are always found near their food, so it's important to locate the baitfish on a depth-finder. If the forage is suspended, anglers will need to switch from bottom-bouncing to tactics that put their lures in the proper depth range.
Another summer trick is trying water that receives less pressure. Boat traffic stirs up the water and can put fish off their feed, and angling pressure can make even hungry fish lure-shy.
Vexing places: That means places like Mosquito, Berlin and Lake Milton can be particularly vexing places for anglers in the summer. They can escape, however, to smaller limited-horsepower lakes and enjoy lots of action on crappies, bluegills and largemouth bass.
Recommendations include Pine, Evans and Hamilton lakes, operated by Consumers Ohio Water Co., and Upper and Lower Girard lakes. All five are "pay" waters and open on rotating schedules throughout the summer.
Fishermen can work the pay lakes even from their big-outboard boats, as long as they use their electric trolling motor for propulsion.
Other small-lake alternatives are Deer Creek and Dale Walborn reservoirs, near Alliance, and Mogadore and Nimisilla reservoirs, not far from Kent.
Flowing water is another option for summer success.
The upper Mahoning River is great for small jon boats and canoes. The Mahoning between Lake Milton's dam and the Warren city limits is full of bass, crappies, walleyes and even muskies. Anglers are advised to try small spinnerbaits and crankbaits, working the deeper pools and the numerous logs to find their preferred species.
Good choice: The upper Cuyahoga River, near Hiram and down toward the outskirts of Streetsboro, is another excellent choice. Much of the water is wadable and produces bass, surprising northern pike and panfish.
The temperature may be rising, but that doesn't mean fishing success needs to fall. Those who take the opportunity to experiment on water more suitable to summer tactics will continue to catch lots of fish.