As though televised football games aren’t evidence enough, when I reached for a hoodie Thursday evening, it hit me smack in the face that Summer 2017 is on the home stretch.
Our first chilly evening in months is more than a blip on the August calendar. It’s a sign that we anglers are dealing with a seasonal transition. Soon the fish that have been in slow motion during the heat of our summer will shift into high gear.
This, of course, is great news for anglers who live and fish in and around the Youngstown area.
Walleyes and crappies are two favorites among area anglers. Opportunities to stay in touch with schools of active walleyes and crappies dwindle during the hot days of July and early August, but water temperatures at our local reservoirs have started to cool from their summer peak.
This summer has not been as hot as recent years, so the highest temps were typically in the low 80s, which is fine for largemouth bass. While the largemouth fishing has stayed consistently fair to good this season around Youngstown, it will get decidedly better as the cool nights outnumber the muggy ones.
For smallmouth bass anglers, the cooler weather is very much welcome. The smallies don’t much like 80-degree water, so daytime fishing in July and August can be challenging. But from now through Halloween and on toward Thanksgiving, the fishing will steadily improve.
For a growing corps of anglers, the cool-down is front-page banner headline news. They are the steelhead anglers who live for the months when 8- and 10-pound steelhead trout migrate out of the Lake Erie depths into the streams that run to the lake from Vermillion to Conneaut.
Steelheaders work the breakwalls around the harbors and river mouths with spoons, spinners and crankbaits that mimic Lake Erie baitfish. Anglers also work the upstream pools and runs, wading and casting flyrods, centerpin outfits and spinning gear.
All in all, the best of 2017 is yet to come for anglers looking forward to fast action before the snow flies.
This is not to say, however, that this year has been a bust so far.
Based on my own experience, plus the stories of fishing friends and the myriad of social media posts and online discussion groups, angling success has been high this year.
Mosquito Creek Reservoir has been a consistent producer of quality catches of largemouth bass, walleyes and crappies.
West Branch and Milton have been cranking out musky catches at their typical productive pace. And Lake Erie this year is as hot for walleyes and smallmouth bass as it always is.
Shenango Reservoir near Sharon has been kind to the bass crowd, while up north on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, Pymatuning has lived up to its reputation as one of the top largemouth and smallmouth lakes ranked by Bassmaster magazine in 2016. It’s great for crappies, too.
Going into the third quarter of the year, I would expect all of our favorite waters will be even better as temperatures cool and the fish eat hardy to build reserves to survive another winter.
I’ll be out there every weekend until it gets too cold to launch the boat. Even then, I’ll add a few trips on foot to stockpile my reserve of fishing experiences to carry through to the day in 2018 when I’ll be back in the boat.
I won’t be the only one out there. If you see me, please wave your hat. I’ll be the fellow with an ear-to-ear grin because fall fishing is so much fun.