Make that last fall fishing trip count
Anglers looking for one more opportunity to catch a few fish before hanging up their rods and reels for the winter have many excellent options within an hour of the Youngstown-Warren area.
Walleyes, bass, crappies and trout are the big four here in November. All are abundant in this region and available to anglers who know where to find them.
Walleyes have been the marquee fish in Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania for generations of anglers whose families have favorite recipes for the tasty gamefish.
Mosquito and Pymatuning are perennial favorites for autumn walleye anglers. Berlin also has many fans, while Milton and Shenango are favorites, too.
Pymatuning and Mosquito anglers drift nightcrawler-and-spinners rigs as well as jigs tipped with minnow across stump flats and sandy points along the receding weedlines. Those who prefer trolling crankbaits also are catching good fish.
Berlin’s jig bite has kicked up a notch as October slipped to November. As the water continues cooling, anglers also will catch a lot of walleyes while vertically jigging vibrating blade baits like the Vib-E and Silver Buddy.
Steelhead trout fishing really kicks into high gear in mid-November. Periodic rain and falling temperatures pull the big lake-run rainbow trout into the harbors and rivers where anglers can hook up while flycasting, drifting spawn and jigs, casting spinners and minnow plugs, and trolling spoons and crankbaits.
Good areas to explore include Ashtabula and Conneaut harbors and their respective rivers. Other areas where anglers can access beaches near creek mouths and breakwaters — from Cleveland to Erie, Pa. — are worth checking out, too.
The cool-down also has pulled schools of crappie back to the near-shore cover where they are feasting on small baitfish, freshwater shrimp and invertebrates. Schools move into the coves and creeks, as well as main-lake areas where the fish can find vertical cover like dock posts, tree tops and brush piles.
Mosquito and Pymatuning are the two most popular crappie lakes in our region, but Berlin, Milton, West Branch and Shenango also support good populations of keeper caliber crappies.
Anglers casting and slow-reeling tiny jigs with chartreuse twisters or tentacle bodies will catch good numbers. Some like to sweeten their jigs with a small larva.
Another productive set-up is a minnows on a small wire hook dangling three or four feet under a slip bobber. Crappies can be very fussy about the depth where they will bite, so anglers experiment with how deep to set their floats until they find where the crappies are hanging.
November is a great month to catch big largemouth and smallmouth bass. The bass action will stay strong through Thanksgiving as long as the weather remains fair to mild.
Most of our local reservoirs have healthy largemouth populations this year, but Shenango always is a favorite as the leaves turn brown and drop. It’s a great time to hook bass in the four- to six-pound class.
This month also is a great time to find big smallmouth bass. Berlin Reservoir and the Ohio River have delivered good fishing this fall. Anglers also are catching heavy smallmouths along the Lake Erie breakwaters where the steelhead anglers are working and on the ledges and rock piles out in the main lake.
With just a few weeks of good weather remaining, now is the time to plan for at least one more trip to catch enough for the freezer and to fuel fond memories once the snow flies.
Jack Wollitz is a writer and angler who fishes all of the waters in northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania. He also appreciates emails from readers. Send a note to Jack at