JACK WOLLITZ || With bad weather, look on the bright side

If ever there was a fishing season that started with a whimper instead of a bang, this is the one.

Blame it on the long- lingering winter. Blame it on the incessant rainstorms. Blame it on the fierce winds that seem to blow across our lakes at least one day every weekend.

But at least we’re fishing. Others in the Midwest and South are cleaning up after floods and tornadoes.

Knock on wood, we’ve avoided catastrophic weather so far this spring. Nevertheless the less-than-ideal conditions have put a damper on many anglers’ enthusiasm and served to keep the fish from settling into more predictable spring patterns.

I’ve been out on my boat just three times this spring. Typical spring seasons would have found me on the lake five or six times already. I am pleased to report, however, that I’ve put fish in the Bass Cat each outing, including several dandy largemouth bass and northern pike.

For others, walleyes and crappies are the hot ticket right now. Anglers are picking off good catches of both species at Mosquito and Berlin. And, with the trees showing thick heads of white blossoms, white bass are keeping fishermen busy in headwaters and tailraces.

White bass in the 1- to 2-pound class are running at Berlin. Many anglers are working their way up in the Mahoning River near Alliance with bright-colored jigs and flashy jigs. The fish move into the current in late April and May to spawn on gravel bars.

In addition to Berlin’s headwaters, the river below the dam down to Lake Milton also is producing nice stringers of white bass.

Crappies are up in the shoreline cover at all of the local reservoirs. Wading anglers are finding them well up on what normally is dry ground beyond the willows. Minnows and jigs dabbled around the flooded trees and brush are producing.

The walleyes also have been using the shallow water, as their normal off-shore haunts are a little too deep this spring. Some anglers are working close to flooded willow points with small crankbaits and metal vibrating baits. Others are probing the causeways and bridge areas with jigs-and-bait combinations.

With the water muddier than normal, the walleyes’ ability to see lures is limited. Anglers can increase the chances a fat walleye will see their bait by tying on brightly colored lures.

Today’s forecast is the best we’ve had in recent weeks. With decent weather and improving conditions, it’s a safe bet the action will good.

Free fishing days coming

Free fishing days are on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ calendar May 7 and 8, providing anglers with their annual opportunity to fish public waters without buying a fishing license.

Established in 1993, free fishing days are intended to promote Ohio’s angling opportunities.

Some 1.3 million people fish each year in Ohio, according to the ODNR’s Division of Wildlife. Except on free fishing days, fishing licenses are required for anglers age 16 and older. A license is necessary not only for fishing, but also for taking frogs and turtles.

Ohio residents born on or before Dec. 31, 1937, can obtain a free fishing license at any license vendor.


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