Fishing forecast in Valley looks good

If May is any indication, we’re looking at a glorious summer of fantastic fishing on awesome lakes around the Youngstown area.

Excuse me for my unbridled optimism. Memorial Day weekend has a way of making people smile and anglers rejoice. With great weather and a little extra time on our hands, it’s good to look ahead at where to fish as summer gets under way.

Based on production I’ve seen at Mosquito Creek Reservoir, I believe it will again be the place to go this summer. Walleyes, crappies and largemouth bass have been showing up in good numbers throughout the spring, and it’s a good bet that as we transition to warm-weather fishing, Mosquito will continue to produce.

The water level has stayed high enough that flooded bushes are still holding largemouths and crappies.

One never knows what will show up in the shallow cover at Mosquito. Anglers also may find a few walleyes meandering in the willows and buck brush at Mosquito as they seek easy meals of yellow perch, bluegills and shad. Plus, I’ve hooked big catfish and northern pike in June in the shoreline tangles.

In a couple of weeks – if not sooner – some of Mosquito’s shallow stuff will be too difficult to reach by boat as the aquatic vegetation starts to thicken. Anglers who learn to work the edges of the massive lily pad flats and the outer reaches of the sprawling beds of grass will find lots of largemouths, crappies and walleyes.

Pymatuning will be another good lake to hit this summer.

I approach the big lake on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border with tactics similar to those I employ at Mosquito.

Shoreline cover will hold largemouth bass and crappies throughout the summer. Pymatuning also has large areas with aquatic vegetation that are worthy of anglers’ attention. The lake also has an excellent population of smallmouth bass, and those who target off-shore structure often encounter big brownies.

Walleyes continue to be a popular pursuit of Pymatuning fishers who know the big stump flats and breaklines and main lake points. Bonus fish there include muskies that take big bucktails, but a pretty sizable percentage of the huskies caught there are hooked by unsuspecting crappie anglers.

If muskies are on your bucket list, two of our local lakes should be on your schedule this summer: West Branch and Lake Milton.

Based on my recent bass fishing experiences at West Branch, an excellent way to hook muskies there is to fish for largemouths. On two trips to the Portage County reservoir, I saw twice as many muskies as bass while fishing spinnerbaits and jigs around the flooded willows and laydown logs.

Lots of anglers are trolling the emerging weed beds at West Branch and reporting multiple-fish days.

Big muskies also are showing up at Lake Milton. Fish have been caught all around Milton, but those who fish from the Route 18 bridge south up into the Mahoning River headwaters are going to increase the odds in their favor.

Muskie experts are trolling plugs in their propwash to hook Milton monsters, but, as at West Branch, lots of fish are caught accidentally by anglers trying for other species.

With good weather for the balance of the Memorial Day weekend and the forecast looking excellent in the upcoming weeks, it’s high time to get out there for great fishing close to home.

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