Spring up before long, hot summer

The fresh rain falling frequently over the Mahoning Valley in recent weeks has contributed to a spring of pretty good fishing across the region.

Fishing has been productive thanks to conditions that include plenty of water at a temperature that has remained relatively stable since the swift warm-up a month ago.

Walleyes remain active, and the crappies continue to gang up around shallow cover, making both species readily available as we head toward mid-June.

Mosquito always is a great early-season lake, and 2010 has been no exception. Anglers are staying busy in pursuit of the abundant walleyes and crappies in the tri-county area’s largest reservoir.

Largemouth bass also have been cooperating this spring at Mosquito, with excellent catches reported in the lush grass beds that form all around the lake’s perimeter.

Berlin has served up great walleye fishing this year, but anglers report they are sorting through numerous fish to build limits of 15-inchers. The proliferation of sub-keeper fish, however, bodes well for upcoming years when the various year classes grow beyond the 15-inch size limit.

Milton has yielded similar success for walleye fishermen, with lots of action to keep folks busy until the next keeper bites.

Both lakes continue to be good crappie lakes. Anglers are pulling nice catches of crappies from the causeways, boat docks and flooded brush and willows.

Berlin and Milton also support excellent populations of smallmouth bass. Walleye anglers report catching smallies while trolling and drifting open water with hard bottom.

Those who target smallmouths are having fun early and late in the day with topwater lures. Recent efforts at Lake Milton have resulted in strong surface action right after sun-up for a couple of hours. Fish up to 4 pounds are not uncommon at Berlin and Milton.

Largmouth bass are biting at both lakes. Fishermen working the shallow cover are catching lots of 12- to 14-inchers at both lakes, with a few fish topping 3 pounds. Jigs, soft plastics, spinnerbaits and crankbaits all are producing.

The recent rainy spell has pushed the water level beyond the “normal” shoreline at most of our area reservoirs. The rising water has flooded into low-lying areas that normally are dry this time of year.

All of that new cover can be perplexing to those in search of bass. A solid tip for those who are a bit bewildered about where to look is to locate areas where you can reach the bank with your casts. Bass being prone to live on edges of different habitat, they will move up with the rising water to the “new” shoreline and settle into the best cover in those areas.

Channel catfishing also has been hot this spring. Some, in fact, are complaining they are catching more catfish than walleyes and bass. Reports of big cats and lots of them have been coming from Mosquito, Berlin and Milton.

West Branch, meanwhile, is still the hottest spot in the region for muskies. Anglers are picking off nice muskies all around the lake, with the various main-lake bays and coves being especially productive.

With more wet weather in the forecast, spring patterns should continue to hold throughout our area for another week or two. Take advantage now, as the long, hot summer is just around the corner.

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